Finishing a Project

Assignment 5: Research Report

Update your research plan (where you wrote about what you planned to do) into a research report (where you will write about what you did do). Students who are part of a team will submit one report that will be contributed to equally by all team members working on the project.

You are not expected to write a complete research report in one shot. You will submit draft 0 at the end of junior year (Friday, May 28, 2021) and draft 1 at the beginning of senior year (probably Tuesday, September 14, 2021. You will keep submitting drafts in senior year until you are more than 90% finished with each part or a few days before the deadline for the Terra NYC STEM Fair (probably Wednesday, December 15, 2021) whichever comes first. Research reports that are completed by the end of October can also be entered into the Regeneron Science Talent Search. (Individual projects only. Sorry, no teams.)

A research report consists of the following parts:

  1. Abstract
  2. The purpose of an abstract in a scientific journal is to allow the reader to judge whether they should read the entire report. Competitions for high school students also use abstracts as quick summaries for judges who are not assigned to read papers in their entirety. A good abstract is typically 100–200 words long and would fit comfortably on a single piece of paper when double spaced. An abstract should address these themes in basically this order…

    Although the abstract is the first part of a research report, it is always written last. It may appear on the title page or on a page by itself. No abstracts should be written for draft 0.

  3. Introduction

    The introduction defines the subject of the report. It must give the reader sufficient background information (with frequent citations) to understand the rest of the report. A good introduction will answer several questions, including…

    • What was the motivation behind performing this project?
    • What relevant knowledge already exists about the topic that this project is a part of?
    • What is the specific purpose of your project? This can be stated as a hypothesis, question, or goal.

    In the research plan, this part was called the rationale. Do not call it a rationale for this assignment.

    All images, diagrams, renderings, drawings, flowcharts, photographs, etc. should be original. If you absolutely need to use an image produced by someone else, you must cite your source.

  4. Materials and Methods

    Describe your experimental design including all procedures for gathering data. If your procedure was influenced by any previously performed projects, you must cite your sources. This part may include…

    • Photographs or drawings of equipment used
    • Flowcharts showing procedures that might be hard to follow in writing
    • Screenshots of online experiments or surveys
    • Snippets of computer code

    In the research plan, this part was called the procedure. If you prefer that name, you can use it for this assignment as well.

    All images, diagrams, renderings, drawings, flowcharts, photographs, etc. should be original. If you absolutely need to use an image produced by someone else, you must cite your source.

  5. Results and Analysis

    Summarize the data collected from the experiment(s) you performed. Describe the analytical methods used to test your hypothesis, answer your research question, or decide if you have reached your engineering goal.

    All material in this section must be original.

    This part may include…

    • Photographs of experimental outcomes (gels, petri dishes, plants grown, soils collected, etc.)
    • Data tables (but data shown in a graph should not be duplicated in a table)
    • Equations used to compute quantities (typically physical equations, but never statistical equations).
    • Graphical representations of data (scatter plots, bar charts, pie charts, heat maps, GIS maps, etc.)
    • Results of statistical tests (mean, median, standard deviation, uncertainty, linear regression, t test, ANOVA, correlation table, etc.)

    All figures and tables should have descriptive titles and should include a figure caption explaining any symbols, or abbreviations. Figures and tables should be numbered consecutively and referred to in text by number (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).

    Figures and tables should be self explanatory; that is, the reader should be able to understand them without having to read any body text. All columns and rows in tables and axes in figures should be labeled.

  6. Conclusion and Discussion

    Summarize your results and provide interpretation for the reader. Explain the logic that allows you to accept or reject your original hypotheses. Explain what the data show through analysis and how it relates to what is already known. Describe limitations in the techniques or experimental design of your project. Suggest future experiments that might clarify or extend your project. Speculate on the importance of your results to the larger worlds of science or culture.

  7. References

    Follow A.P.A. formatting. Include DOIs or URLs (but never both) as applicable. Be sure that URLs do not include tracking code. This part should be single spaced with hanging indents (also known as outdents) and a blank space between entries. Entries should be sorted alphabetically by author. All entries must have an author (human or "corporate"). This part should start on a new page.

Adapted from the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) rules and guidelines and Writing Lab Reports and Scientific Papers by Warren D. Dolphin, Iowa State University.