The purpose of a science report is to clearly communicate your key message about why your scientific findings are meaningful. In order to do this, you need to explain why you are testing a hypothesis, what methodology you used, what you found, and why your findings are meaningful. This requires a clear link between your introduction and your analysis/discussion.
Science reports tend to have a more typical structure than business reports. The structure is designed to clearly outline the key message of the research. It does this through indicating existing research, the significance of the current research, the research aim or hypothesis, what research was actually conducted, what was found, what the findings mean and imply. The structure in the table below outlines a typical scientific report.
Introductions need to logically justify, using the relevant literature, the reason for doing the experiment. They typically contain:
- background contextual information
- what is being investigated
- the significance of your research
- what previous studies have found in this area
- aims and hypothesis (depending on the discipline)
The body of a science report contains the bulk of the information and writing. It typically contains the following:
- Methods: a precise and concise explanation of what you did. It is important that this is written in such a way that it could be replicated by other researchers.
- Results: present your findings with appropriately and clearly presented graphs, tables, charts, and explanations.
The discussion is an important section of your report and is often the most challenging to write. This is where you present the analysis of what your findings mean. You outline whether or not your findings support the hypothesis presented in the introduction and the extent to which your findings agree with previous research, also presented in the introduction. If not, you can put forward suggestions as to why and present ideas for ways that future research could address these issues. The discussion is the section that requires careful consideration in terms of structure, in the same way that an essay does. You have a key message about your research and findings that you need to present, and your structure needs to support that.
The final paragraph of your discussion is the conclusion. In science reports, conclusions are brief summaries of the findings and may reemphasise the key message of your report.