PHYS257 REPORT WRITING GUIDELINES SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (A) OVERVIEWExperimental data become useful to others only when these results are communicated effectively. The two primary ways in which new results are communicated to the scientific community at large are through oral presentations (e.g. at conferences) and written reports (e.g. journal articles, conference proceedings and books). Thus, report writing occupies a considerable portion of the time of any professional scientist, whether industrial or academic. Therefore, it is essential to develop good report writing skills. Before sitting down to write a report it is essential to appreciate that the whole purpose of the report (or scientific article) you will write is to disseminate important scientific results/information to others. This is why scientists take the trouble to “write things up”. There is no other reason for producing this kind of written record of your work. In doing so it is YOUR JOB as author to communicate the results to others as clearly and concisely as possible. A report is absolutely worthless if nobody but you can understand it or navigate their way through it! If a researcher produces an unreadable, incomprehensible document they might as well have produced no document at all; it is the author's responsibility to make sure they are understood in their writing. It is their failure if they aren't.(B) THE READERIn the preparation of a report, it is important to have an intended reader in mind. In actual practise this could be members of your research group, a member of your immediate scientific community (i.e. others working on the specific problem addressed in your report), a member of the broader field in which you are working (i.e. those with a background in the foundations of the field, but little or no knowledge of the specific problem you are addressing) or the scientific community at large (readers that ‘do’ science, but not ‘your’ science). The report should be written at a level that is understandable to the expected reader but - at the same time - does not insult his/her intelligence. The implication here is that one must “write up” a result differently depending on the expected readership. Reports prepared for PHYS257 should be directed at a colleague, i.e., a fellow student
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