Project Report: Grades 6 to 12
(Click here if you need to see the format for a K-5 project summary.)
Printer-friendly version (PDF).
NOTE: 3 copies of this report must be turned in or mailed to the GPHSF Director one week prior to the fair!
Written documentation of a scientific experiment is necessary whether you're a student researcher or a professional scientist. All GPHSF participants must submit a written report for the judges to read. There is no minimum length requirement, although it would be difficult to include all of the necessary parts in fewer than three or four pages.
Your written report should contain:
- Title Page includes the title of your project, your name, and your grade.
- Table of Contents
- Abstract: This brief (250-word maximum) summary should
include the (a) purpose of the experiment, (b) procedures used,
(c) data, and (d) conclusions. It should be on a separate page
with the title of the project at the top. (Do not put your name
on this sheet.) See any scientific journal article for an
example of an abstract, or click
- Introduction or Purpose: The introduction sets the scene
for your report. It includes an explanation of what prompted
your research and a summary of your preliminary research. The
purpose includes your hypothesis and what you hoped to
- Materials: List all materials and the amounts you used.
- Procedure: Describe in great detail the methodology used to
collect your data or make your observations. Your report should
be detailed enough so that someone would be able to repeat the
experiment from the information in your paper. You may include
drawings or photographs.
- Results and Discussion: Present your results thoroughly
using graphs, charts, tables, or a daily log to help the reader
understand what you discovered. The discussion, or
interpretation of results, is the essence of your paper. What
could have caused these results? Compare your results with
theoretical values, published data, commonly held beliefs,
and/or expected results. Include a discussion of possible
errors. Other questions you may want to consider:
- How did the data vary between repeated observations of
- How were your results affected by uncontrollable
- What would you do differently if you repeated this
- What other experiments should be conducted?
- Conclusions: Briefly summarize your results. What is the
answer to your question? Do your results prove or disprove your hypothesis? Be
specific; do not generalize. Never introduce anything in the
conclusion that has not already been discussed. Conclusions may
include your opinions based on measurements.
- Acknowledgments: Often scientists thank others who have
helped them with their research project. This is the place to
do so. You should always credit those who assisted you,
including individuals, businesses, and educational or research
- Bibliography: (Sometimes called "Works Cited.") List all
books, encyclopedias, journal articles, web sites, etc., you
used. Different disciplines often follow different referencing
formats; check an article from a scientific journal in your
field if you want perfection, but most importantly, be
- A book reference might look like this:
Smith, J. D. (1989). A Study of Plant Life.
New York: Johnson Printing Co.
- A scientific journal article reference might
look like this:
Foley, J. D. (1987). "Interfaces for Advanced
Computing." Scientific American,
- A World Wide Web reference might look like
Author. (June 8, 1999). "Title of Page."
Title of Site. Online. Available: http://www.etc.
Accessed August 4, 2000.
If at all possible, try to produce your report on a computer; it will look neater and make a better impression on the judges. (Also, as different science fairs may have different requirements for the research paper, it will make it much easier to change the format and reprint your report, if necessary.) Before you submit it, ask someone else to proofread your paper.
These are things that should not be included with your report:
- Your log book or photocopies of your log book. Judges do not need to see all of your raw data.
A good research paper summarizes findings rather than just regurgitating data.
- Items that are not made of paper. No CDs, DVDs, flash drives, etc.
More suggestions before you print out your paper
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