How to write an effective Scientific Report?


Scientific Report
Students who choose a scientific direction are often confronted with a frightening task: the writing of a scientific report. Relax! Once you have the data, you merely need to format it to match the accepted structure for such a report. This consists of the following:

Title

Your title needs to include the essence of your research, it doesn't have to sound 'catchy', so don't worry if you end up with something like 'An investigation of the effects of rooting hormones in the vegetative propagation of the genus Ficus.' Yes, it sounds a bit dry, but you're trying to prove something here, not sell it!

Abstract

The 'abstract' is a summary of your paper. Give it the heading 'abstract' and state the aim of your research, the methods used, the results and the conclusions drawn from these. All of this needs to be encapsulated in one paragraph. The purpose of the 'abstract' is to give the reader an opportunity to decide if your research is of interest to them before they read further.

Introduction

Under this heading, you place your research in context. Thus you begin with the broad context of the research: why is this information important? State the 'problem' you are trying to solve. Of course, your reader will be interested to know if prior work has been conducted on this or a related issue, so it's important to refer to the work done by previous researchers. This will also allow the reader to cross-reference their work in relation to yours. Last, but not least, describe the purpose of your current research. What do you hope to learn that has not previously been established?

Method

One of the requirements for an accepted research paper is that the methods and materials should be possible to replicate, and that the end-result will be the same as yours. It is thus important to explain in detail all relevant methods applied and materials used. This section should be written in the past passive tense. Thus 'The xxxxx was applied to yyyy' rather than 'I applied the xxx to yyy'. Be sure to explain why you chose the specific method that you applied, possibly referring to earlier, related work.

Results

This is not a place for raw data, this can be placed in an appendix to the paper for anyone who would like to check it. Describe, but do not explain your results. You may want to indicate which of these you thought particularly significant, but no conclusions are drawn at this point. Indicate what methods were used in analysing the data.

In this, all-important section of your paper, you will present your data using graphs and processed figures. You will still be writing in the passive tense, but you will use the past tense when describing how the figures were analysed, and the present tense in discussing the results' For example: 'Figure 5 shows the rate at which non-differentiated tissue was produced''

Discussion

The aim of this portion of your paper is to explain the results of the study and to explore the significance of your findings. At this point you begin to interpret the results of your research and explain how the 'problem' stated in your introduction has been solved.

Do relate this to existing literature, for example 'Gibbs and Howell (1958) found that gibberlins and cytokinins had a synergistic effect in the rooting of pear hardwood cuttings'. Then explain why you think that your work has added to the body of knowledge, for example (continuing the sentence above): 'results from the trials conducted on Ficus carica seem to indicate a similar effect within this genus.'

If your research led to more questions 'This worked, but what if?' or 'I'm not sure why this or that happened', mention this too since it may present an interesting direction for future research projects. Of course, you will use the language appropriately to research to raise these questions, but having got this far, it should be a breeze!

Be critical of your results: sure it worked in the lab, but will it work in practice? Will it work in all scenarios? Do you think that your research methods might be improved on in future?

Bibliography

Of course, you have to give a nod of acknowledgement to the authors who you have referenced in your research. There are many formats for this section, and it is best to check with your intended recipient how they would like references to be formatted.

Appendices

This is just supplementary info that supports your finding: your raw data, for instance, maps, graphs, etc. Appendices should be referred to in the text at some time, for example 'The data gathered on 21 February 2012 (see Appendix A) shows that'.' Appendices are always indicated by a letter rather than a number, or an alpha numeric combination such as 'Appendix B1'.

You're done!

Submit your report and wait for feedback!

Go Back to Writing and Editing

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice