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Chapter 8. Solving Problems Through Trip... > Format and Substance of a Scientific...

Format and Substance of a Scientific Report

For the scientific report, then, our discussion is descriptive instead of prescriptive. One type of scientific report is the lab report, usually an in-house document that reports interim findings informally, before they are written up as a formal scientific report. Thus, an engineer will record in a lab report the preliminary data from an experiment in progress. But this report makes few demands on the writer, since it usually is a sort of fill-in-the-blanks report that requires the writer to transfer essential information from personal notes.

The scientific report is simply a more thorough, formal documentation of findings arising from a number of related lab reports. The scientific report adds the review of literature section, to situate the work in significant other work in the field; an abstract (since it would be addressed to outsiders, other scientists at other facilities); formal citations; and suggestions for further investigation. One pitfall of the scientific report's abstract is that it may simply be a tease, telling the reader what the article is supposed to be about, instead of reporting very concisely what conclusion the researchers came to. So, again, the concern is to be conclusive, to know how to write the main report clearly, knowing that the point is not to string the reader along, but to respect the harried reader's limited time and attention span where professional reading is concerned.


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