Reporting your investigation

Explain the work you’ve done to others

Many students fall into the trap of thinking that writing up is the final step of your project.

Quite the opposite: writing as you go along will help, even if it’s just to make notes to refer back to or to keep track of your sources. A typical 5,000-word report might include:

  • Abstract: A single paragraph or summary of your entire project.
  • Introduction: A short explanation of your investigation, which includes your hypothesis.
  • Literature review: An analysis of existing research relevant to your topic. Often this explains or justifies how your investigation will help to address an unanswered question in the field. Sometimes the literature review is part of the introduction.
  • Method: A step-by-step explanation of your experiments, including the equipment you used.
  • Results: Set out the data that you collected in the most appropriate way – often this will be tables or graphs.
  • Discussion: Analysis of your data, including an assessment of whether you can accept or reject your null hypothesis. Sometimes the results and conclusion can be part of the discussion.
  • Conclusion: A clear concise statement of what you have actually found out.
  • Evaluation: A chance to wrap up and evaluate your work. What might you do differently next time? How might someone take this further?
  • Bibliography: A list of all of your references (see ‘Bibliography basics).

Tailor the sections of your report to suit your specific project.

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Go Further: A practical guide to extended science projects’ in August 2015.

Go Further: A practical guide to extended science projects
Education levels:
16–19, Independent research projects