Before we start, first of all, let's define what a scientific report is. The main purpose of this paper is to introduce your scientific ideas with received results to the readers. Every document should be written according to certain rules and requirements. Our short guide will be helpful for those people who want to know how to write a scientific report successfully.
Scientific Report Structure
Every report must be well-structured following the main rules. You need to create every part of the paper to get the whole report. According to standards, your document should contain the following parts:
1. Cover page
This page contains such information as your paper's title and author(s) name(s). If your scientific paper will be published, don't forget to ask those people who participated in the research, to give their permission to put their names into the document.
This is a quite short part of your work where you have to make a brief description of your research. Keep in your memory that people will decide to read the whole paper or not after reading the abstract, so try to make this part clear and understandable. This section reflects the main purpose of your own research, that's why it's not a good place to put citations here. Usually, the abstract length shouldn't exceed 250 words.
If you have no idea how to write an introduction for a scientific report, at the start let's define this paragraph's purpose. This section should be a brief presentation of your scientific work, plus you need to give a clear explanation of why you chose this subject and why this report is so important to do. When you are making an introduction for your paper, you can use one of the next variants:
- A short introduction that consists of 2 or 3 sentences that explain what you are going to discover in your work.
- Describe your paper's problem in the introduction, and also include here some information about this problem's history and researches on this subject in the past.
- Explain to readers why you chose this research and tell what new things you are going to bring in your paper.
- Announce to your audience what kind of things you are going to discover in your work.
4. Methods and Materials
Here you should put a list of materials and methods that you use in your report. Keep in mind that this section shouldn't contain any information about your work's results. You just describe what you are going to do during the scientific experiment.
So, finally, here it's a place to put your detailed results. To present all received data to readers properly well-organized, you can use various graphs and tables. Remember that you have just to list your results here without discussion.
Present your results in a consistent manner. For example, if you present the first group of results as percentages, it will be confusing for the reader and difficult to make comparisons of data if later results are presented as fractions or as decimal values. Once again - Do not discuss your results here. Any analysis of your results occurs in the Discussion section.
Discuss your results, mention if they matched your expectations; if not, then explain why. Analyze the received data and put a connection between results and the main questions of your scientific report.
Checklist for the discussion:
- To what extent was each hypothesis supported?
- To what extent are your findings validated or supported by other research?
- Were there unexpected variables that affected your results?
- On reflection, was your research method appropriate?
- Can you account for any differences between your results and other studies?
7. Graphs and Tables
If you follow the rules, all tables and graphs with data should be put in a separate section. Make sure you wrote a short description of each element. This section could be skipped if you don't need to make any tables and graphs (when your work doesn't require this).
In this section, you have to summarize the received results and define if you got an answer to your work's main question. Here you need to mention if your paper is already finished or you suggest making some research in the future.
9. References / Bibliography
This is a part where you should put a list of properly cited sources that you used for writing your report.
A Reference List contains all the resources you have cited in your work, while a Bibliography is a wider list containing all the resources you have consulted (but not necessarily cited) in the preparation of your work.
It is important to check which of these is required, and the preferred format, style of references and presentation requirements of your own department.
When your scientific report is finished, it should be revised thoroughly to find and correct mistakes. You have to check your paper for logical, spelling, and grammar errors, and also make sure you put the right data in graphs and tables. You can use various vocabularies as well as different online services for checking grammar errors. It's better to proofread your document at least two or three times because the scientific report is quite serious and important work that should look perfect.
Appendices (singular ‘Appendix’) provide supporting material to your project.
Examples of such materials include:
- relevant letters to participants and organisations (e.g. regarding the ethics or conduct of the project);
- background reports;
- raw data;
- detailed calculations.
Different types of data are presented in separate appendices. Each appendix must be titled, labelled with a number or letter, and referred to in the body of the report. E.g.:
- The data obtained are summarised below.
- The detailed data are given in Appendix 3.
Appendices are placed at the end of a report, and the contents are not included in the word count.
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Scientific Report Example
Perception of Different Sugars by Blowflies
To feed on materials that are healthy for them, flies (order Diptera) use taste receptors on their tarsi to find sugars to ingest. We examined the ability of blowflies to taste monosaccharide and disaccharide sugars as well as saccharin. To do this, we attached flies to the ends of sticks and lowered their feet into solutions with different concentrations of these sugars. We counted a positive response when they lowered their proboscis to feed. The flies responded to sucrose at a lower concentration than they did of glucose, and they didn’t respond to saccharin at all. Our results show that they taste larger sugar molecules more readily than they do smaller ones. They didn’t feed on saccharin because the saccharin we use is actually the sodium salt of saccharin, and they reject salt solutions. Overall, our results show that flies are able to taste and choose foods that are good for them.
All animals rely on senses of taste and smell to find acceptable food for survival. Chemoreceptors are found in the taste buds on the tongue in humans (Campbell, 2008), for example, for tasting food. Studies of sensory physiology have often used insects as experimental subjects because insects can be manipulated with ease and because their sensory-response system is relatively simple (E. Williams, personal communication). Flies are able to taste food by walking on it (Dethier, 1963). Hollow hairs around the proboscis and tarsi contain receptor neurons that can distinguish among water, salts, and sugars, and flies can distinguish among different sugars (Dethier, 1976). These traits enable them to find necessary nutrition.
In this experiment we tested the ability of the blowfly Sarcophaga bullata to taste different sugars and a sugar substitute, saccharin. Because sucrose is so sweet to people, I expected the flies to taste lower concentrations of sucrose than they would of maltose and glucose, sugars that are less sweet to people. Because saccharin is also sweet tasting to people, I expected the flies to respond positively and feed on it as well.
We stuck flies to popsicle sticks by pushing their wings into a sticky wax we rubbed on the sticks. Then we made a dilution series of glucose, maltose, and sucrose in one-half log molar steps (0.003M, 0.01M, 0.03M, 0.1M, 0.3M, and 1M) from the 1M concentrations of the sugars we were given. We tested the flies’ sensory perception by giving each fly the chance to feed from each sugar, starting with the lowest concentration and working up. We rinsed the flies between tests by swishing their feet in distilled water. We counted a positive response whenever a fly lowered its proboscis. To ensure that positive responses were to sugars and not to water, we let them drink distilled water before each test. See the lab handout Taste Reception in Flies (Biology Department, 2000) for details.
Flies responded to high concentrations (1M) of sugar by lowering their proboscis and feeding. The threshold concentration required to elicit a positive response from at least 50% of the flies was lowest for sucrose, while the threshold concentration was highest for glucose (Fig. 1). Hardly any flies responded to saccharin. Based on the results from all the lab groups together, there was a major difference in the response of flies to the sugars and to saccharin (Table 1). When all the sugars were considered together, this difference was significant (t = 10.46, df = 8, p < .05). Also, the response of two flies to saccharin was not statistically different from zero (t = 1.12, df = 8, n.s.).
The results supported my first hypothesis that sucrose would be the most easily detectable sugar by the flies. Flies show a selectivity of response to sugars based on molecular size and structure. Glucose, the smallest of the three sugars, is a monosaccharide. The threshold value of glucose was the highest in this experiment because a higher concentration of this small sugar was needed to elicit a positive response. Maltose and sucrose are both disaccharides but not with the same molecular weight or composition. It has been shown that flies respond better to alpha-glucosidase derivatives than to beta-glucosidase derivatives (Dethier 1975). Because sucrose is an alpha glucosidase derivative, it makes sense that the threshold value for sucrose occurs at a lower concentration than that for maltose. This might also be the reason why sucrose tastes so sweet to people.
My other hypothesis was not supported, however, because the flies did not respond positively to saccharin. The sweetener people use is actually the sodium salt of saccharic acid (Budavari, 1989). Even though it tastes 300 to 500 times as sweet as sucrose to people (Budavari, 1989), flies taste the sodium and so reject saccharin as a salt. Two flies did respond positively to saccharin, but the response of only two flies is not significant, and the lab group that got the positive responses to saccharin may not have rinsed the flies off properly before the test.
Flies taste food with specific cells on their tarsal hairs. Each hair has, in addition to a mechanoreceptor, five distinct cells – alcohol, oil, water, salt, and sugar – that determine its acceptance or rejection of the food (Dethier, 1975). The membranes located on the tarsi are the actual functional receptors since it is their depolarization that propagates the stimulus to the fly (Dethier, 1975). Of the five cells, stimulation of the water and sugar cells induce feeding, while stimulation of the salt, alcohol, and oil receptors inhibit feeding. More specifically, a fly will reject food if the substrate fails to stimulate the sugar or water receptors, stimulates a salt receptor, or causes a different message from normal (e.g., salt and sugar receptors stimulated concurrently) (Dethier 1963).
Flies accept sugars and reject salts as well as unpalatable compounds like alkaloids (Dethier & Bowdan, 1989). This selectivity is a valuable asset to a fly because it helps the fly recognize potentially toxic substances as well as valuable nutrients (H. Cramer, personal communication). Substances such as alcohols and salts could dehydrate the fly and have other harmful effects on its homeostasis (Dethier, 1976). Thus, flies are well adapted to finding food for their own survival.
I thank Prof. Browning for help with the t-test and my lab partners for helping me conduct and understand this experiment.
LITERATURE CITED / BIBLIOGRAPHY
Campbell, N.A., & J.B. Reece. 2008. Biology, 8th ed. Pearson Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco.
Budavari, S., et al. 1989. The Merck Index. Merck & Co., Rahway, NJ.
Biology Department. 2000. Taste Reception in Flies. Biology 101 Laboratory Manual, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.
Dethier, V.G. 1963. The Physiology of Insect Senses. Methuen & Co., London
Dethier, V.G. 1976. The Hungry Fly. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Dethier, V.G., & E. Bowdan. 1989. The effect of alkaloids on sugar receptors and the feeding behaviour of the blowfly. Physiological Entomology 14:127-136.