The Learning Game
Writing a research report
When producing scientific reports a certain format should be followed. This format will vary depending on your particular lecturer and on your level of study. The format most commonly used is:
Table of Contents
Use only if your report is longer than 6 pages. List headings and subheadings exactly as they appear in the report. Produce the Table of Contents last, after everything else has been finalized do that page numbers are accurate.
Lists of Figures and Tables - usually you will only need to list these if writing at 300 or higher levels.
Abstract or Summary
Abstracts are written to provide the reader with a quick overview of the whole report. It should be no more than 300 words long and should contain:
An Introduction should explain why you did this work, and what its purpose is:
A literature review is an extensive summary of the key research findings in a particular subject. They are usually only required at advanced levels. Don't include one unless you've been asked to.
Materials and Methods
Cover what materials were used and how. Give:
Your description should enable your marker to assess the reliability and validity of your methodology. Or it should give enough detail for your experiment to be repeated so that results can be duplicated.
Present what you observed or found. All results that will appear in your report must be presented in this section. New results should not appear in the Discussion or Conclusion. You may decide to combine your Results and Discussion sections. If so explain what the findings mean as you present them.
Interpret results for the reader especially in relation to the stated hypothesis. Consider the implications of the study - relevance, usefulness and limitations. This should be supported by results.
Recap the major points made in your Discussion in relation to the stated hypothesis.
Show all sources that have been cited in your report. Sources that are not cited are shown under Bibliography after References (See referencing).
Using and Acknowledging Sources
When you write assignments there are always sources (books, articles, readings) to which you will refer. There are two important points that you should know, in relation to using and referring to sources.
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism occurs when you take the ideas of a source and either do not
acknowledge them or present them as your own ideas. Most students have been
guilty (unwittingly) of plagiarism from time to time as it is very hard
sometimes to separate your ideas from someone else's. Remember, your lecturer
will usually know when you are guilty of this and will mark you down as