Writing a science report

The paper should be presented in such a way that your ideas flow smoothly and logically from paragraph to paragraph. All sentences in a paragraph should relate to a strong topic sentence and be concisely stated since unnecessary repetition and extraneous details can obscure even simple concepts.

If the topic was assigned, be sure to actually answer the question asked.

Literature Cited: You MUST cite the references that you use as sources of information, whether you quote or just paraphrase them. This must be done both in the text, at the point where the information is used, and in the "References" or "Works Cited." Only your own ideas, observations, or data do not require to be cited.

All of the author's names must be given in the "References," and every reference used must appear in the Reference List. NO papers or books should be cited which are NOT referred to either in the text or figures.

Lab reports

Title page: The title should be clear and concise.

Abstract: The abstract indicates WHAT WAS FOUND, NOT what was done. The abstract should be a single paragraph which clearly states new and significant information in the paper. It should elaborate upon the title and condense the article.

Introduction: The introduction should explain why it is necessary to perform the experiment, and include some historical background. The introduction should make the subject of the paper clear, include a definition of the problem, a brief synopsis of previous studies related to the problem, and the rationale for the author undertaking the present study. A statement of purpose should also be included.

Materials & Methods: This section should provide the reader with sufficient information to enable him to duplicate the author's methods and assess their accuracy. If previously published methods are used, they should be referenced, and any special adaptations by the author should be provided. The methods should cover HOW the experiment was done, WHAT equipment and animals were used, and comments about how the animal was kept.

Results: Data and observations should be presented in the RESULTS and should be sufficiently new and original to merit publication. Data presented as tables and figures should NOT duplicate information already outlined in detail in the text.

Discussion: The discussion should cover the validity of observations and techniques used. INTERNAL consistency of observations should be remarked upon, and results should also be COMPARED to EXTERNAL reports. It is acceptable to speculate and suggest implications for the results.

Conclusion: Must be related to the Introduction and Hypothesis.

References: When citing references, your goal should be to give your reader ALL the information required to trace the information you present to the sources of literature which you used.

Figures and Tables: DO NOT include figures unless they are necessary to the text, and are referred to specifically in the text, but do not hesitate to use figures if they are of real value. If the figure is from a book or article, credit the author and year of publication in the Figure caption, and list the work in the "Literature Cited."

  • e.g., 1. As illustrated in Figure 1, the tooth structure...
    or    Teeth are derived from dermal bone (Figure 1).
  • e.g., 2. When the figure is used exactly as in the reference, and the caption you use is the same OR modified, the caption should read: Figure 1. Development of the tooth (Hyman 1942).
  • e.g., 3. When you modify the figure and the caption is the same OR modified, your caption should read: Figure 1. Development of the tooth (after Hyman 1942).

Writing reports

Your purpose for your writing may be to:

  • show that you understand certain theories
  • show that you can do independent research
  • apply a specific theory to a new topic
  • provide information

Length: Before you start writing, you will need to think about the length of the assignment in relation to the time available.

Tone: In everyday writing to friends, you probably use a casual tone, but academic writing including essays and reports, a more formal tone should be used. If your instructor asks you to express yourself freely, you may be able to use an informal style.

1st Person: Since a formal essay is not a personal outpouring, you should try to keep it from becoming "I-centered." Occasionally, you may use the first-person pronoun to express your opinion, as long as it is backed with evidence. If an argument is clear and self-supporting, however, there is no need to use such phrases as "In my view."