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This is for those investigators who are serious about maintaining true scientific documentation of their investigations and research. Scientific research involves designing a study, collecting samples, measuring variables, analyzing data, and presenting the results in a formal report. The writing process makes the author think more deeply about the study. Accurate, clear, and concise writing is essential to effective communication among researchers. A scientific report provides a writing experience different from a library term paper because it is based on your own data and personal involvement in the investigation.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: HINTS ON SCIENTIFIC WRITING:

The following general guidelines should be used:

I. Wherever possible, use the first person ("I" or "we") instead of awkward indirect statements ("this author...
”these researchers").

2. Avoid long, involved sentences and overuse of polysyllabic words. Long, run-on sentences often obscure
your meaning. Check for excessive use of commas and conjunctions ("and," "but," "or"). These often
connect clauses that can be more clearly separated into two or more sentences.

3. Use the active voice instead of the passive voice. For example, "I measured the room's temperature" is
preferable to "The room temperature was measured by the author," as it uses fewer words and is unambiguous
(i.e., it is clear who measured the temperature). And "I measured EMF levels" is better than "EMF levels
were measured," because the latter statement does not tell us who performed the measurement.

4. Avoid excessive use of nouns as adjectives. "Temperature stratification" or "ceiling height" is acceptable, but
the trend can be over-used.

5. Be positive in your writing. Don't hide your findings in noncommittal statements. For example, "the data
could possibly suggest" implies that the data actually may show nothing; simply say "the data show."

6. Avoid noninformative abbreviations such as "etc." and phrases such as "and so on" or "and the like.”

7. Keep specialized jargon to a minimum. If (but only if) vernacular terminology is just as accurate, use it.

8. Keep technical abbreviations and acronyms to a minimum. A statement like this may be difficult for the
non-expert to comprehend: "The results of the ASTM procedure for BOD were correlated with measurements
of DO and JTU and compared to EPA standards." Define abbreviations and acronyms the first time they
appear in the paper.

9. Avoid repeating facts and thoughts. Decide in which portion of the report different statements are best
placed, and do not repeat them elsewhere.

10. Be concise and succinct. Avoid verbosity in writing. For example, say "many people" rather than
"a large number of people," and say "because" rather than "due to the fact that." Include all that is necessary,
but don't pad the report with data irrelevant to the purpose or conclusions of the study.

WRITING THE REPORT
GENERAL PRESENTATION & FORMAT

1. ALL reports should be typed or computer-generated.
2. ALL reports should have a neat, clean cover.
3. The main report should be double-spaced but graphs and tables may be single-spaced for easier reading.
4. Mixing pen and typing within a report is unacceptable.
5. Page numbers should be centered at the BOTTOM of each page, beginning with "Introduction."
6. BE CAREFUL in following the format - make sure ALL sections are included, in order and properly labeled.

MAJOR SECTIONS OF THE REPORT, IN ORDER

I. TITLE PAGE
II. ABSTRACT (ONLY ONE PAGE)

A. The abstract should give the reader an idea of what your report contains and gives them a picture of what
will follow. A good introduction to the whole body of work. Writing a clear, concise abstract is an art!

B. A BRIEF summary of your report, including the nutshell of your results and conclusions. This is not an ad
to explain why you did your research!

C. Make sure to include the dates and location of your project data collection.

D. Write the abstract last, after all your results and analysis are finished. (The abstract does not get a page
number)

III. TABLE OF CONTENTS

IV. INTRODUCTION

A. In the introduction of the paper, state the nature of the problem to be addressed, the objectives of the
study, and any hypotheses to be tested. Also, give a brief background for the study, which would typically
include a brief review of the literature. Relate the problem and its significance to the general discipline of
study. This part of the paper presents the background, justification, and relevance of your study.

B. At least 4 different sources should be used.

C. All the information you learned from someone else needs to be "cited" in the Introduction - like writing
footnotes. Citations are mandatory in a research report.

V. MATERIALS AND METHODS: (third person, impersonal form - past tense)

Materials (subheading) - Describe EXACTLY what you used to do your research (Magnetometer, Thermometer, ION Counter,.) "Eyes," "pencils" are unnecessary.

Methods (subheading) - Procedures in research reports generally should be detailed enough for the reader to
have an accurate idea of what was done in the study. Give a good enough description of materials, sampling
dates, locations and methods used so that a reader could duplicate your investigation. Including a simple
diagram or photographs of the setup, properly labeled. The details of standard and generally known
procedures (such as how a device is operated) should be kept to a minimum. In a field study, a general
description of the study site is required, complete with site maps. If commercial computer software is used,
cite its full name and indicate the version used. The type of statistics used to analyze your data should be
included and cited.

VI. RESULTS
The results section is not just a data summarization or a collection of tables and figures; it should contain an
explanation and description of the data, including any qualitative observations you made during the study. Tell
the reader exactly what you found, what patterns, trends, or relationships were observed. Illustrations in the
results section may consist of graphs, photographs, or diagrams that visually depict your results.

VII. DISCUSSION
In the results section of the paper, the results are summarized and described. In the discussion section, they
should be interpreted, critically evaluated, and compared to other reports. Whereas the results section
presents the "news," the discussion section contains the "editorial." In the discussion, examine the amount
and possible sources of variability in your data, including experimental error. Examine your results for bias and
evaluate its effect in data interpretation. Develop arguments for and against your hypotheses and
interpretations. Do not make generalized statements that are not based on your data, known facts, or reason.
Be sure to relate your findings to other studies and cite those studies. Draw positive conclusions from your
study whenever possible.

VIII. Conclusion (third person, impersonal OR personal form - present tense)
The end of your paper should contain a brief summary of your basic findings, followed by a set of clear
statements that you believe explain your results.

IX. Appendices (any additional pictures and/or material you wish to include)

A. Make sure any appendices are listed in the table of contents (with page numbers).
B. DON'T stuff this section unnecessarily - 


 


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