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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: Your paper is due one week before the GPHSF. Check here in January for instructions about submitting your paper.

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:

  1. Title Page includes the title of your project, your name, and your grade.

  2. Table of Contents

  3. 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 here.

  4. 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 achieve.

  5. Materials: List all materials and the amounts you used.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 similar events?
    • How were your results affected by uncontrollable events?
    • What would you do differently if you repeated this project?
    • What other experiments should be conducted?

  8. 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.

  9. 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 institutions.

  10. 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 consistent!

    • 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, 257:127-135.

    • A World Wide Web reference might look like this:
      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.

More suggestions before you submit your paper.


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Questions? Contact the GPHSF Director. Last modified: 17 November 2019