File Name: structure and components of scientific reports .zip
The scientific format may seem confusing for the beginning science writer due to its rigid structure which is so different from writing in the humanities.
One reason for using this format is that it is a means of efficiently communicating scientific findings to the broad community of scientists in a uniform manner. Another reason, perhaps more important than the first, is that this format allows the paper to be read at several different levels. For example, many people skim Titles to find out what information is available on a subject. Others may read only titles and Abstracts.
Those wanting to go deeper may look at the Tables and Figures in the Results , and so on. The take home point here is that the scientific format helps to insure that at whatever level a person reads your paper beyond title skimming , they will likely get the key results and conclusions.
Top of page. Most journal-style scientific papers are subdivided into the following sections: Title , Authors and Affiliation , Abstract , Introduction , Methods , Results , Discussion , Acknowledgments , and Literature Cited , which parallel the experimental process.
This is the system we will use. This website describes the style, content, and format associated with each section. The sections appear in a journal style paper in the following prescribed order:. Main Section Headings: Each main section of the paper begins with a heading which should be capitalized , centered at the beginning of the section, and double spaced from the lines above and below.
Do not underline the section heading OR put a colon at the end. Subheadings: When your paper reports on more than one experiment, use subheadings to help organize the presentation. Subheadings should be capitalized first letter in each word , left justified, and either bold italics OR underlined.
Function : Your paper should begin with a Title that succinctly describes the contents of the paper. Use descriptive words that you would associate strongly with the content of your paper: the molecule studied, the organism used or studied, the treatment, the location of a field site, the response measured, etc.
A majority of readers will find your paper via electronic database searches and those search engines key on words found in the title. The title is not a section, but it is necessary and important. The title should be short and unambiguous, yet be an adequate description of the work. A general rule-of-thumb is that the title should contain the key words describing the work presented.
Remember that the title becomes the basis for most on-line computer searches - if your title is insufficient, few people will find or read your paper. For example, in a paper reporting on an experiment involving dosing mice with the sex hormone estrogen and watching for a certain kind of courtship behavior, a poor title would be:. It is very general, and could be referring to any of a number of mouse behaviors.
A better title would be :. Because the key words identify a specific behavior, a modifying agent, and the experimental organism. If possible, give the key result of the study in the title, as seen in the first example. Similarly, the above title could be restated as:. Strategy for Writing Title.
Function : An abstract summarizes, in one paragraph usually , the major aspects of the entire paper in the following prescribed sequence:. Whereas the Title can only make the simplest statement about the content of your article, the Abstract allows you to elaborate more on each major aspect of the paper.
The length of your Abstract should be kept to about words maximum a typical standard length for journals. Limit your statements concerning each segment of the paper i. The Abstract helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper, or it may be the only part they can obtain via electronic literature searches or in published abstracts. Therefore, enough key information e. How do you know when you have enough information in your Abstract?
A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing an study similar to the one you are reporting. If your Abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the information presented there?
Use the active voice when possible, but much of it may require passive constructions. Write your Abstract using concise, but complete, sentences, and get to the point quickly. Use past tense. Maximum length should be words, usually in a single paragraph. Strategy : Although it is the first section of your paper, the Abstract, by definition, must be written last since it will summarize the paper.
To begin composing your Abstract, take whole sentences or key phrases from each section and put them in a sequence which summarizes the paper.
Then set about revising or adding words to make it all cohesive and clear. As you become more proficient you will most likely compose the Abstract from scratch. Check your work : Once you have the completed abstract, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what is written in the paper. Confirm that all the information appearing the abstract actually appears in the body of the paper.
Quite literally, the Introduction must answer the questions, " What was I studying? Why was it an important question? What did we know about it before I did this study? How will this study advance our knowledge? Style : Use the active voice as much as possible. Some use of first person is okay, but do not overdo it. Structure : The structure of the Introduction can be thought of as an inverted triangle - the broadest part at the top representing the most general information and focusing down to the specific problem you studied.
Organize the information to present the more general aspects of the topic early in the Introduction, then narrow toward the more specific topical information that provides context, finally arriving at your statement of purpose and rationale.
A good way to get on track is to sketch out the Introduction backwards ; start with the specific purpose and then decide what is the scientific context in which you are asking the question s your study addresses. Once the scientific context is decided, then you'll have a good sense of what level and type of general information with which the Introduction should begin. Top of Page. This section is variously called Methods or Methods and Materials. Function : In this section you explain clearly how you carried out your study in the following general structure and organization details follow below :.
Organize your presentation so your reader will understand the logical flow of the experiment s ; subheadings work well for this purpose. Each experiment or procedure should be presented as a unit, even if it was broken up over time. The experimental design and procedure are sometimes most efficiently presented as an integrated unit, because otherwise it would be difficult to split them up.
In general, provide enough quantitative detail how much, how long, when, etc. You should also indicate the statistical procedures used to analyze your results, including the probability level at which you determined significance usually at 0. Style : The style in this section should read as if you were verbally describing the conduct of the experiment. You may use the active voice to a certain extent, although this section requires more use of third person, passive constructions than others.
Avoid use of the first person in this section. Remember to use the past tense throughout - the work being reported is done, and was performed in the past, not the future. The Methods section is not a step-by-step, directive, protocol as you might see in your lab manual. Strategy for writing the Methods section. Describe the organism s used in the study. This includes giving the 1 source supplier or where and how the orgranisms were collected , 2 typical size weight, length, etc , 3 how they were handled, fed, and housed before the experiment, 4 how they were handled, fed, and housed during the experiment.
In genetics studies include the strains or genetic stocks used. For some studies, age may be an important factor. For example, did you use mouse pups or adults? Seedlings or mature plants? The description must include both physical and biological characteristics of the site pertinant to the study aims.
Include the date s of the study e. It is often a good idea to include a map labeled as a Figure showing the study location in relation to some larger more recognizable geographic area. Someone else should be able to go to the exact location of your study site if they want to repeat or check your work, or just visit your study area.
Describe your experimental design clearly. Be sure to include the hypotheses you tested, controls , treatments , variables measured, how many replicates you had, what you actually measured , what form the data take, etc. Always identify treatments by the variable or treatment name, NOT by an ambiguous, generic name or number e.
When your paper includes more than one experiment, use subheadings to help organize your presentation by experiment. A general experimental design worksheet is available to help plan your experiments in the core courses.
Describe the procedures for your study in sufficient detail that other scientists could repeat your work to verify your findings.
Foremost in your description should be the "quantitative" aspects of your study - the masses, volumes, incubation times, concentrations, etc.
When using standard lab or field methods and instrumentation, it is not always necessary to explain the procedures e. You may want to identify certain types of equipment by vendor name and brand or category e. It is appropriate to report, parenthetically, the source vendor and catalog number for reagents used, e. Always make sure to describe any modifications you have made of a standard or published method.
Describe how the data were summarized and analyzed. Here you will indicate what types of descriptive statistics were used and which analyses usually hypothesis tests were employed to answer each of the questions or hypotheses tested and determine statistical siginifcance.
Here is some additional advice on particular problems common to new scientific writers. Problem : The Methods section is prone to being wordy or overly detailed. Problematic Example : This is a very long and wordy description of a common, simple procedure.
My Athletic Life. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything — new ideas and established wisdom. If you have a basic understanding of these steps, the layout and structure of published research will make a lot more sense. In order to read and comprehend scientific research, you must have a basic understanding of statistics. If you have never taken a collegiate level statistics course, here are links to two excellent tutorials to get you started:. The data that a researcher gathers typically represents a small sample of a given group, but by using appropriate statistical techniques, the researcher is able to estimate if and how the data relates to the larger population.
Whether you are writing a B. Degree Research Paper or completing a research report for a Psychology course, it is highly likely that you will need to organize your research paper in accordance with American Psychological Association APA guidelines. Here we discuss the structure of research papers according to APA style. A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. Emma Geller.
Got to document an experiment but don't know how? In this post, we'll guide you step-by-step through how to write a scientific report and provide you with an example. Is your teacher expecting you to write an experimental report for every class experiment? Are you still unsure about how to write a scientific report properly? We will guide you through all the parts of a scientific report, step-by-step. Scientific reports allow their readers to understand the experiment without doing it themselves.
Unlike an essay, a report has a formalised structure. Taking into account disciplinary differences, scientific or laboratory reports written by undergraduates share the same format as scientific reports written by academics for publication. The sections of a scientific report are:. These sections appear in the report in the order they are listed above; however, this is not necessarily the best order in which to write them O'Shea, As the abstract is an overview this is most easily and accurately written last. The method and results sections are most probably the easiest sections with which to start if you have completed your experiment as they have a formalised structure O'Shea, Scientific reports that use qualitative research methods e.
An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis , review, conference proceeding , or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. Abstracting and indexing services for various academic disciplines are aimed at compiling a body of literature for that particular subject. In management reports, an executive summary usually contains more information and often more sensitive information than the abstract does. Academic literature uses the abstract to succinctly communicate complex research. An abstract may act as a stand-alone entity instead of a full paper. Most literature database search engines index only abstracts rather than providing the entire text of the paper. The abstract can convey the main results and conclusions of a scientific article but the full text article must be consulted for details of the methodology, the full experimental results, and a critical discussion of the interpretations and conclusions.
The scientific format may seem confusing for the beginning science writer due to its rigid structure which is so different from writing in the humanities. One reason for using this format is that it is a means of efficiently communicating scientific findings to the broad community of scientists in a uniform manner. Another reason, perhaps more important than the first, is that this format allows the paper to be read at several different levels. For example, many people skim Titles to find out what information is available on a subject. Others may read only titles and Abstracts. Those wanting to go deeper may look at the Tables and Figures in the Results , and so on.
A good research paper has both qualities of good studies and good writing Bordage, In addition, a research paper must be clear, short, and effective when presenting the information in an organized structure with a logical manner Sandercock, The results section is a section containing a description about the main findings of a research, whereas the discussion section interprets the results for readers and provides the significance of the findings. This section should not repeat the results section. Some of the common reasons the results and discussion sections might cause reviewers to reject a manuscript are Bordage,
Nearly all journal articles are divided into the following major sections: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references. Usually the sections are labeled as such, although often the introduction and sometimes the abstract is not labeled. Sometimes alternative section titles are used. The abstract is sometimes called the "summary", the methods are sometimes called "materials and methods", and the discussion is sometimes called "conclusions". Some journals also include the minor sections of "key words" following the abstract, and "acknowledgments" following the discussion.
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