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Tips on Formatting Science Reports

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Tips on Formatting Science Reports

In this article, experts from PaperDueNow consider an organizational structure which is quite common in various scientific disciplines – the IMRAD format, which stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

Such headings are standard for different fields. However, the details of this structure may change. Therefore, we recommend that you ask your instructor to provide you with specific requirements.

When to Use the IMRAD Format

Although this format is often used in scientific reports, this rule has a few exceptions. ¬†For example, you shouldn’t use this format in reports devoted to other research materials, including case and field studies, where headings may look differently depending on the discipline. Therefore, we recommend that you ask for specific instructions before submitting your article to a journal.

Writing a Title

Your title must:

  • Contain keywords for indexing.
  • Describe the subject in a clear manner so that your audience can decide whether or not they want to read the whole paper.

Your title shouldn’t:

  • Contain jargon and abbreviations.
  • Include unnecessary words, such as “an investigation of” or “studies on.”
  • Use informal language.

The Abstract

Here are some guidelines that will help you write an abstract.

What is your paper about, in general?

  • State the main objectives of your study.
  • List methods that you’ve used.
  • Summarize the most important findings.
  • Draw conclusions.

What to avoid

  • Don’t include references to other sources, tables, or figures.
  • Don’t include information that is not present in your report.

Additional tips

  • Determine the maximum length.
  • Note the most important points from each section.

The Introduction

What is the problem?

  • Describe the problem.
  • Summarize relevant information about the key terms, context, and important concepts that your readers should know.

The importance

  • Analyze relevant research to come up with a rationale. What is the gap in knowledge that you’re trying to fill? Is there a new method you want to introduce? Is there an unanswered question?

Your solution

  • Provide a brief description of the experiment: a hypothesis, research questions, methods, and alternative methods.

Additional tips

  • Explain how your experiment solves real-life problems, moving from general problems to specific.
  • Engage your audience. Explain why they should care about your experiment.
  • Clearly indicate the connection between the problem and solutions that you offer, questions and your research.
  • When citing other studies, only include details which are actually necessary. The more relevant your references, the better.
  • Ask your instructor about whether you should provide a summary of conclusions or results in the introduction.

Methods

How did you approach the problem?

  • Briefly explain the scientific procedure.

What materials did you use?

  • This section may include equipment, materials, and subjects, such as reagents, experimental animals, etc. These categories should have their own subheadings.

What steps did you take?

  • What steps did your experiment involve?

Additional tips

  • Provide the necessary details so that others can replicate your experiment. For example when publishing an article in a journal, provide the details on your sources, subjects, and methods. Specify tool manufacturers, species of organisms, etc.
  • Describe the procedure in a step-by-step manner.
  • Describe your actions in the past tense.
  • Quantify measurements, concentrations, and amounts, if you can.

What to avoid

  • Don’t include detailed information on common procedures that your audience is already familiar with.
  • Don’t mix procedures with results.

Results

Observations

  • Describe your experiment without the details that you’ve already provided in the Methods section. Make this description 1-2 sentences long.
  • List key results and support them by selected data.
    • Representative (most common)
    • Best Case (the best example or exception)

Additional tips

  • Provide your results in a logical order (from simple to complex, or from least important to most important).
  • Describe what happened in the past tense.

What to avoid

  • Select the necessary data, don’t just repeat it.
  • Don’t interpret your results in this section.
  • Avoid unnecessary words.

Discussion Section

The meaning of your observations

  • Start by summarizing the most important findings.

Conclusions

  • Describe the relationships, principles, and patterns that your results demonstrate.
  • Consider your results in the context of your expectations and previous research.
  • Explain any exceptions, agreements, and contradictions.
  • Describe what additional research is needed to understand exceptions and to resolve contradictions.

Consider your results in a broader context

  • Point out the theoretical implications of your results.
  • Suggest practical applications.
  • Draw analogies with other situations.
  • Explain how your results help understand a broader topic.

Additional tips

  • Move from specific applications to general.
  • Don’t ignore major issues. Explain whether your study has achieved the goal or not.
  • Support your conclusions with evidence and explain the possible reasons for exceptions.

What to avoid

  • Avoid unnecessary generalization.
  • Pay your attention to deviations in the data.
  • Don’t speculate about things that cannot be tested in the nearest future.
Tips on Formatting Science Reports
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