Writing a Scientific Report to Present Data

  1. Introduction
  2. Give an overview/context for the topic that was explored

Example: Urban development increases run-off of stormwater from impervious surfaces, which can lead to flooding if sites haven’t been engineered to collect and infiltrate that stormwater.  Stormwater can also pick up and carry nutrients downhill to collect in rives, lakes, ponds, or stormwater basins.  Cite references to support these ideas with (author, year) at the end of relevant sentences.  Include full citation in a List of References at the end. Two possible references are provided in the Soil and Nutrients lab folder.

  1. Get more specific about the area where you collected data and the specific questions you asked—Miami campus. Three questions found in the spreadsheet.
  2. BREIFLY state what you measured to address the questions
  3. Set up and then present your hypothesis

 

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  1. Methods
  2. Describe the field site where you collected data—what city or county, near what landmarks or roads, date, weather conditions
  3. Describe the field methods you used to collect the raw data—map assessment of areas of each land use type, basin infiltration rates, basin soil nutrients.
  4. Explain how you further manipulated the data to answer your questions (calculation of Qc for campus and basins
  5. Describe any statistical methods you applied– plotting of Infiltration vs each nutrient to get R2 value—the Regression co-efficient to determine how strongly infiltration rate influences nutrient concentrations.

 

III.  Results

  1. Present summaries of the data in tables or graphs. There is no need to print out several sheets of paper of the raw data.
  2. Describe WITH WORDS the trends in the data that you are presenting in tables or graphs.

 

  1. Discussion
  2. Summarize the results and interpret the significance of your results
  3. Revisit your hypothesis in light of your results. Do your results support your hypothesis? Why or why not?
  4. Explore how your results inform the larger themes developed at the beginning—do they lend support to the general concepts you described, or do they suggest there might be better explanations or frameworks for the patterns you saw? Include at least two references here with proper citation (author, year) and inclusion in the List of References.
  5. If appropriate, describe any weaknesses of your study and what could be done in the future to improve the study. (Keep this section short. It is not the most important part of your discussion.)

E..  Did any new questions arise from this field study that you would explore further if given the time and opportunity?

 

  1. List of References (in alphabetical order by first author’s last name)

Use this format:

Last name, First initials, and [additional names]. Year. Title of article. Journal name volume # : Page # range

 

Example:

David, W.B. and D.A. Wait. 2001.  Subsidized island biogeography hypothesis: a new twist on an old theory.  Ecology Letters 4:289-291.

 

 

**Extra tips:

* It is inappropriate in scientific writing to make irrelevant statements of opinion.  For example, “I thought the forest was really pretty.” Or, “I wish we didn’t have to collect data in the cold and pouring rain.”

* You need to cite sources of information you are referencing in your introduction and discussion.  Please also include a List of References.

*It is very important that each student write his or her own report independently.  Although all students will have access to the same data, each student will present and interpret the data in their own way.

 

FORMAT FOR LABORATORY REPORTS

Basic Formatting:

 

Margins: 1” all sides
Font size: 12 pt.
Pagination: Arabic numeral, consistent placement throughout
Spacing within paragraphs: Single space within paragraphs
New paragraph: Double space  after ending each paragraph
Section Headings: Align headings for Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited on left margin. Double space after each section heading. Use consistent font & formatting for section headings. Do not start each section on a new page unless it works out that way coincidentally.
Tables and Figures: Number consecutively and incorporate within the paper body.
References

 

Name-Year System (described in detail below): List references in alphabetical order by the first author’s last name.

 

GRADING RUBRIC FOR LABORATORY REPORTS

Total Points: _______/100

 

TITLE

Concisely describes the lab exercise

POINTS RECEIVED /POINTS POSSIBLE

____ /3

 

INTRODUCTION

Provides an ecological or environmental theoretical framework for the study, demonstrating a clear need for further investigation of the topic.

Links to at least two outside reference sources and the sources are cited correctly

States hypotheses that brings in knowledge and context from class lectures and lab discussion

 

____ /6

 

____ /6

 

____ /6

 

 

METHODS

Contains a detailed description of the field sites

Contains a written description of how the field methods

Contains a description of how data were analyzed

 

____ /3

____ /6

____ /3

 

RESULTS

Includes written, past tense, summary of data of sufficient detail without repeating information in tables and figures; summarizes key findings without interpreting the findings (save that for discussion)

Contains appropriate tables and figures

Tables and figures are explicitly referred to in text (Table 1, Figure 1, etc.)

Figures and tables are clearly labeled (Table 1, Figure 1, etc.) and properly configured

 

 

____ /6

 

____ /6

____ /2

____ /5

 

DISCUSSION

Explains and interprets the results, including a statement as to whether the original hypothesis was supported.

Conclusions are logical and follow from the data presented, and do not contradict the outcomes of the statistical tests

Compares results and conclusions to other relevant research from at least two citable sources; if appropriate, include speculation as to why results are different than expected; may suggest an idea for additional studies or experiments that might resolve remaining questions

 

____ /6

 

 

____ /6

 

 

____ /6

 

REFERENCES

References utilized were appropriate given the context of the study and

citations were from approved sources (e.g. avoid stand-alone web pages

and your textbook)

In alphabetical order, in Name-Year Format

 

____ /3

 

____ /3

 

OVERALL

Appropriate sections included, all of appropriate length and detail. Included information is in the appropriate section.

Formatted correctly (margins, spacing, indentation etc.)

Free of grammatical and spelling errors

Sophistication (depth of content, clarity of exposition)

 

 

____ /6

____ /3

____ /10

____ /5

 

 

 

What to Include In a Reference List:

 

Never include in a reference list a document you have not seen. When it is not possible to see an original document, cite the source of your information, do not cite the original assuming that the secondary source is correct. When a reference is available in both print and electronically, always cite the specific version seen. Electronic and print versions can differ significantly.

 

The most common ‘citable’ reference items include:

 

Articles from peer-reviewed journals

Books

Book chapters (not encyclopedias)

Technical reports

 

Note: A standalone web page that is not published as a peer review article, book, book chapter, or technical report does not count as a reference. You may utilize websites as a starting point for finding other literature, but you must find and use original “citable” literature for the references in your final lab reports.

 

There are a variety of reference citation formats used by different disciplines and even different journal publications within the same disciplines. Although style varies from one journal to the next, most scientific publications use variations of the Name-Year format. All reports submitted for the Introduction to Environmental Studies and Science course should use the Name-Year format utilized by the Ecological Society of America and as outlined below.

 

Name-Year System for Citing References

 

Journal Article with Single Author

 

In-text reference:

 

Student input into experimental design has been shown to greatly increase student understanding within the field of climatology (Abbott 2007).

 

In the References section, this source would be cited as:

 

Abbott, J . A. 2007. Measuring thermal variation in a valley environment using a team, filed project designed by students. Journal of Geography 105:121-128.

 

The general format for citing a journal article with a single author is:

 

Last name, First initial. Second initial. Date. Title. Journal title volume number:pages.

 

 

Journal Article with Two Authors

 

 

 

In-text reference:

 

Production of corn biofuels in Florida shows much higher water consumption footprint and nitrogen loading burden than biofuels produced from sweet sorghum (Evans and Cohen 2009).

 

In the References section, this source would be cited as:

 

Evans, J. M. and M. J. Cohen. 2009. Regional water resource implications of bioethanol production in the Southeastern United States. Global Change Biology 15: 2261-2273.

 

The general format for citing a journal article with two authors is:

 

Last name, First initial. Second initial. and First initial. Second initial. Last name.

Date. Title. Journal title volume number:pages.

 

Journal Article with More Than Two Authors*

 

In-text reference:

 

Highly localized nutrient and pulsed rainfall inputs exert complex controls on the food chains and biodiversity patterns of shorebird islands (David et al. 2008).

 

*Note the use of “et al.” for the in-text citation where there are more than two authors

 

In the References section, this source would be cited as:

 

David, W. B., D. A. Wait, and P. Stapp. 2008. Resources from another place and time: Responses to pulses in a spatially subsidized system. Ecology 89:660-670.

 

The general format for citing a journal article with more than two authors is:

 

Last name, First initial. Second initial., First initial. Second initial. Last name, and First initial. Second initial. Last name. Date. Title. Journal title volume number:pages.

 

Books

In text-reference:

Coarse particulate organic matter is an important food source for shredders (Hauer and Lamberti 1996).

 

In the References section, this source would be cited as:

Hauer, F. R. and G. A.  Lamberti. 1996. Methods in Stream Ecology, First Edition. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

The general format for citing a book with more than two authors is:

Last name, First initial. Second initial., First initial. Last name, and First initial. Second initial. Last name. Date. Book title. Publisher, City of publication, State of publication, Country of publication.

Books on the Internet

If a book is located from an internet source, include the web link at the end of the citation: 

Hauer, F. R. and G. A. Lamberti. 2007. Methods in Stream Ecology, Second Edition. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780123329080.

Book Chapters

In text-reference:

Nutrients play a controlling role in the physiology of herbaceous plants and the competitive interactions between herb species in the forest environment (David 2003).

In the References section, this source would be cited as:

David, W. B. 2003. Biotic and abiotic influences on the herbaceous layer: Nutrients. Pages 91-104 in F. S. Gilliam and M. R. Robert, editors. Ecology of the Herbaceous Layer of Forests of Easter North America. Oxford University Press, New York, New York, USA.   

Please note that the “in” before the editor names is italicized. 

The general format for citing a book chapter is:

Last name, First initial. Second initial., First initial. Second initial. Last name, and First initial. Second initial. Date. Chapter title. Pages in First initial. Second initial. Last name and First initial. Second initial. Last name, editors. Book title. Publisher name, City of publication, State of publication, Country of publication.

Technical Reports

A technical report is “a separately issued record of research results, research in progress, or other technical studies”. Most technical reports are issued by governmental agencies, but may also originate from universities or other types of research institutions. Advocacy organizations also sometimes issue technical reports, but technical reports from such advocacy groups should only be used with great caution.

 

In text-reference:

Use of tidal backflow preventers on stormwater outfall pipes was shown to be a cost-effective action for reducing flood risks due to sea-level rise in Tybee Island, GA, over the next thirty years (Evans et al. 2016).

In the References section, this source would be cited as:

Evans, J. M., J. Gambill, R .J. McDowell, P. W. Prichard, and C. S. Hopkinson. 2016. Tybee Island Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan. Project NA100AR4170098. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Georgia Sea Grant, Athens, Georgia, USA. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289999590_Tybee_Island_Sea-Level_Rise_Adaptation_Plan.

The general format for citing a technical report is:

Last name, First initial. Second initial., First initial. Second initial. Last name, and First initial. Last name. Document title. Report number. Government agency, Agency division, City of publication, State of publication, Country of publication.

 

Websites

As noted previously, standalone websites do not count as a “citable source” for your lab reports and, therefore, should not be included in your References section. However, you can provide an in-text reference to a website from a credible source that you use for specific information not readily found elsewhere. This in-text reference should include a link to the original webpage that has the information you are referencing and the date you accessed the page.

In text-reference:

The latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant profile map for Pistia stratiotes L. (water lettuce) shows this species as native to Florida (http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=PIST2; accessed August 28, 2016).

 

If you find a reference that poses difficulty for you to fit into the citation format below, please bring that reference to your lab instructor for assistance.

 

 

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