Conducting a Science Fair Project
Writing Your Research Paper
The value of scientific investigation would be lost if it were not reported to others. You have the opportunity to report your study in three ways: a scientific research paper, an exhibit and an oral presentation. At this point, we will consider the writing of your scientific research paper.
By now you have collected valuable information on index cards. You have made observations and kept detailed notes. Your list of materials and procedures have been recorded. Data has been organized in tables, charts, and graphs. You have a wealth of information.
Now you must organize that information into an orderly and presentable research paper. Check before you start about rules that your teacher or science fair organization might have in regard to the parts and order of the paper. A commonly used order is presented here. Work on one section at a time.
The Abstract is a shortened version of your entire paper. Others can read your abstract if they do not have time to read your paper. It should include information about yourself at the top: name, address, school, grade in school, age, and category of your project. Below this information write three short paragraphs: the Purpose, the Procedure, and the Results (you may include conclusions in this section). The entire abstract should be about 200 to 300 words and fit on one page. It is easier to write the abstract after you have written the entire research paper.
2. Title Page
The title page bears the title of your project in the center of the page, several inches from the top of the page. Your name, school and grade in school would be placed in the lower right-hand corner of the page.
3. Table of Contents
List the sections of your paper and the page numbers where they begin. You will have to wait until you write or type your final version to be sure of the page numbers.
The purpose that you have already composed is the same purpose use here. It should be three sentences or less after which you may include any hypotheses you have as to the outcome of the experiment.
In one or more sentences, say "thank you" to those who have helped you with your project. You should include those who gave you guidance, materials, and the use of facilities or equipment.
6. Review of Literature
It is now time to use those index cards. This section of your paper is your report to the readers of work and research conducted by others in the past that relates to your topic and facts that help introduce the readers to the topic.
7. Materials and Methods of Procedure
List the materials that you used. Then explain step-by-step what you did in your experimentation. If drawings will make it more clear, draw them on separate pages and include them in this section. Explain any materials that you constructed in detail.
The Results section of your paper is organized into graphs, charts, tables, or day-to-day log. Make sure that you label your graphs or charts so that the reader can understand them. Refer back to the sample graphs.
9. Conclusion or Discussion
This section is your evaluation and interpretation of your results. Look over your graphs, charts, tables, or daily log and then write what you think the data shows or seems to indicate. You may include your opinions. Don't be afraid to admit where you might have made mistakes. Negative results are not bad; if you did not prove your hypothesis, then say so.
10. Bibliography or Literature Cited
This is a list of books, articles, pamphlets, and other communications or sources that you used for researching your topic and writing your paper. They are written or typewritten in this form:
Last name of author, First name, Title of Source (book), Place where published: Publisher, Date of Publication
Example of Book:
Smity, John D., A Study of Plant Life, New York: Johnson Printing Company, 1979.
Example of Magazine Article:
Jones, Thomas A., "The Development of the Chick," Animal Development Journal, June 1976, Volume 16; 27-34.