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Physics projects for Y3 and Y4 students

Writing a good report or paper

Writing a good report or paper

After the experimental and theoretical work is done, it is important to write things up to make sure others don't need to reinvent the wheel. Instead you will want them to acknowledge your genius. Hence you have to write in a way to ensure that:

Some further points you should keep in mind:

Well presented data.
Fig.1: Brightness of light measured in transmission (squares, left axis) and blob count in the sample (diamonds, right axis) as a function of elapsed time from the start of the experiment.
  • Plot figures on an appropriate scale. Ensure that different data sets are clearly distinguishable. If you plot lines to connect points, state in the caption whether these represent theory functions or merely guides to the eye. In the latter case - do you really need them? Fig.1 gives an example of well-presented data: Both data sets are shown on a scale which allows to discern the detail of the pattern, and plotting them together in one graph allows to spot correlations. Error bars help distinguish real fluctuations from random noise. Axes are labelled, and the data fill the frame with little empty space.
  • Make sure that all figures and tables are enumerated and have a caption describing what is on display and what the different markers stand for. Increase signal-to-noise by avoiding sentences like "a graph to show" - people know that it's a graph; and graphs are usually meant to show something. Use the figure numbers to refer to figures in the text. No figure should go without mentioning in the text!

Here is a research paper from Phys Rev Lett. Because it is a short paper, it doesn't have section headings like Introduction or Results etc, but it follows the same structure. See if you can identify the different sections.

Content updated: ruw/190613