Explain the various techniques for writing a research report in a scientific manner.

Techniques for writing research reports in a scientific manner

An objective of organizing a research paper is to allow people to read your work selectively. For most studies, a proper research report includes the following sections, submitted in the order listed, each section to start on a new page. Some journals deviate from the format, such as by combining results and discussion, or combining everything but the title, abstract, and literature as is done in the journal Science. Your reports will adhere to the standard format.

  • Title page,
  • Abstract,
  • Introduction,
  • Materials and Methods,
  • Results,
  • Discussion,
  • Literature Cited,
  • Examples

Style:

In all sections of your paper, use paragraphs to separate each important point (except for the abstract), and present your points in logical order. Use present tense to report background that is already established. For example, the grass is green. Always use past tense to describe results of a specific experiment, especially your own.

Title Page:

Select an informative title, such as “Role of temperature in determination of the rate of development of Xenopus larvae.” A title such as “Biology lab #1” is not informative. Include the name’s and addresses of all authors, and date submitted.

Abstract:

Summarize the study, focusing on the results and major conclusions, including relevant quantitative data. It must be a single paragraph, and concise. It should stand on its own, therefore do not refer to any other part of the report, such as a figure or table. Avoid long sections of introductory or explanatory material. As a summary of work done, it is written in past tense.

Introduction:

Introduce the rationale behind the study, including:

  • The overall question and its relevance to science.
  • Suitability of the experimental model to the overall question.
  • Experimental design and specific hypothesis or objective.
  • Significance of the anticipated results to the overall question.

Include appropriate background information (but do not write everything you know about the subject).

Methods and Materials:

The purpose of this section is to document all of your procedures so that another scientist could reproduce all or part of your work. It is not designed to be a set of instructions. As awkward as it may seem, it is standard practice to report methods and Materials in past tense, third person passive. Your laboratory notebook should contain all of the details of everything you do in lab, plus any additional information needed in order to complete this section.

Results:

Raw data are never included in a research paper. Analyze your data, then present the analyzed (converted) data in the form of a figure (graph), table, or in narrative form. Present the same data only once, in the most effective manner. By presenting converted data, you make your point succinctly and clearly. Figures are preferable to tables, and tables are preferable to straight text.

However, many times a figure is inappropriate, or the data come across more clearly if described in narrative form.

To give your results continuity, describe the relationship of each section of converted data to the overall study. For example, rather than just putting a table in the paper and going on to the discussion, write, In order to test the null hypothesis that dust particles are responsible for the blue color of the sky, we observed the results of filtering air through materials of decreasing pore size.

Table 1 lists the spectrum of transmitted light at right angles to the light path through air filtered through different pore sizes. Then present your table, complete with title and headings.

All converted data go into the body of the report, after the methods and before the discussion. Do not stick graphs or other data onto the back of the report just because you printed or prepared them separately. Do not draw conclusions in the results section. Reserve data interpretation for the discussion.

Discussion:

Interpret your data in the discussion. Decide if each hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if you cannot make a decision with confidence. Do not simply dismiss a study or part of a study as “inconclusive.” Make what conclusions you can, then suggest how the experiment must be modified in order to properly test the hypothesis’s.

Explain all of your observations as much as possible, focusing on mechanisms. When you refer to information, distinguish data generated by your own studies from published information or from information obtained from other students. Refer to work done by specific individuals in past tense. Refer to generally accepted facts and principles in present tense.

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