Science Report – Detailed Guide
This is part of the NSW HSC science curriculum part of the Working Scientifically skills.
How to Write a Science Report
A science report is an essential part of high school science courses, including the New South Wales (NSW) Higher School Certificate (HSC) curriculum. It allows students to communicate their scientific findings and demonstrate their understanding of the scientific method. A well-written science report is clear, concise, and structured, with each section serving a specific purpose. In this article, we will outline the different sections of a science report for NSW HSC students, providing guidance on what to include under each heading.
The title of your science report should be concise, specific, and accurately reflect the content of your investigation. It should give the reader a clear idea of the purpose of your experiment and the variables being studied.
Example: "The Effect of Light Intensity on the Growth of Tomato Plants"
Abstract (optional for high school reports)
An abstract is a brief summary of your report, highlighting the aim, method, results, and conclusions. Although not always required for high school science reports, it can be useful for providing an overview of your investigation. Keep the abstract between 100-200 words.
The introduction sets the context for your investigation, explaining the background information, relevant scientific concepts, and the purpose of your experiment. It should also include a clear hypothesis or research question, outlining your predictions based on existing knowledge.
Example: "This investigation aims to determine the effect of light intensity on the growth of tomato plants. It is hypothesised that increased light intensity will result in faster growth rates."
Materials and Methods
In this section, describe the materials, equipment, and procedures used in your experiment. Be detailed and specific so that someone else could replicate your investigation.
If appropriate, diagrams of the experimental set-up should be provided to assist the reader in understanding and replicating your experiment. Diagrams should be drawn clearly, with a ruler, and labelled.
For example, instead of outlining 'expose the tomatoes to the light sources for some time', write 'expose the tomatoes to each light source for 12 hours per day for 4 weeks'.
Include information about variables (independent, dependent and controlled), controls, sample sizes, and any safety or ethical considerations.
Safety information should ideally be presented in a table format with headings: risk, description of risk, and ways to mitigate risk.
Present the data you collected during your investigation in an organised and clear manner. Use tables and graphs to display your data and make it easier for the reader to understand. In this section, you should only report the data and avoid interpreting or discussing the results.
The discussion section of a science report should include the following:
- Analyse and interpret the results of your investigation in the discussion section. This includes explanations of any trends, patterns, or relationships in the experimental results.
- Relate your findings to your hypothesis or research question. Do your results support or reject your hypothesis?
- Consider any limitations and errors (systematic and random) of your experiment
- Assess the validity of your experiment with reference to your aim, method and results
- Assess the validity, accuracy and reliability of your results
- Suggest possible improvements for future experiments
Summarise the key findings of your investigation and state whether your hypothesis or research question was supported. This section should be brief and concise, emphasising the main points of your report.
Example: "In conclusion, this investigation demonstrated a positive relationship between light intensity and the growth rate of tomato plants, supporting the initial hypothesis."
References / Bibliography
List any sources of information, such as textbooks, journal articles, or websites, that you used to inform your investigation and write your report. Use a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, or Chicago) to format your reference. You should check what format is required by your school.
It is a good idea to organise and document your references as you write up your report instead of leaving them until after you finish writing.