11. Notebook

Project Report Notebook


     Your report is the written record of your entire project from start to finish. When read by a person unfamiliar with your project, the report should be clear and detailed enough for the reader to know exactly what you did, why you did it, what the results were, whether or not the experimental evidence supported your hypothesis, and where you got your research information. This written document is your spokesperson when you are not present to explain your project , but more than that, it documents all your work.

     One important component of your notebook is your journal. The journal is a diary-like record of everything you have done as your project progresses. Type or neatly copy the journal's contents to include in your observation/ data section of your notebook, or it can be included as a separate folder.

Generally, a project report should be typewritten using a 12 or 14 point font, double-spaced, and bound in a folder or notebook. See the Notebook contents handout for a list of how to organize the contents of your folder. The rest of this section describes the parts of a project report in order.

I. Title Page

     This page should be neat and simple, with the title of the project centered on the page. Your title should be attention getting, and should capture the theme of the project. Ideally, your title should not be the same as the problem question. It is appropriate to include interesting pictures relating to your topic on the title page as well, but don't overdo it. Normally your name would not appear on this page during judging, so we suggest you print two title pages… one with the your name, date and period and teacher's name in the lower right hand corner. The other with just your grade, the date, teacher's name and the school listed in the lower right hand corner for the science fair.

II. Table of Contents

     The second page of your report is the table of contents. It should contain a list of everything in the report that follows the contents page, and the page numbers which correspond with each section. Click here to print up a Table of Contents hand-out:

Table of Contents Handout

III. Abstract

     The abstract is a brief overview of the project. It should not be more than one page and should include the project title, a statement of the purpose, a hypothesis, a brief description of the procedure, and the results. There is no one way to write an abstract, but there are some standard guidelines to follow.

If your project reaches the county level, a copy of your abstract must be submitted online almost a month prior to their fair. It's a good idea to have additional copies of your abstract on the table in front of the display. Middle school and high school level projects are judged primarily on the abstract and the personal interview, this gives judges something to refer to when making final decisions. It might also be used to prepare an introduction by a special award sponsor, so do a thorough job on this part of your report.

IV. Introduction

     The introduction is a statement of your purpose, along with background information that led you to make this study. It should contain a brief statement of your hypothesis based on your research. In other words, it should state what information or knowledge you had that led you to hypothesize the answer to the project's problem question. Make references to information or experiences that led you to choose the project's purpose.

V. Research

     This required section gives the student an opportunity to share information they have discovered which pertains to their topic. The library, the Internet, and experts are all sources which may help the students complete their three to five pages of research (some teachers may require more or less). If a student chose to do an experiment relating to bacteria, then their research would include information about the nature of bacteria, positive and negative aspects of these tiny organisms, and any other interesting bits of information which relate to the experiment. The website ScienceBuddies.org has a wonderful guide to help students plan their research, click here to go to the:

Research PlanWorksheet

VI. Hypothesis

     After conducting background research on your topic, you probably have an idea about what the results of your experiment might be. The hypothesis is an educated guess which predicts the outcome of your experiment.

VII. Materials

List all materials used in your experiment on this page.  Don't forget to use metrics!

VIII. Experimental procedure

     Your procedure is simply step by step instructions detailing everything you did in your experiment. Write the procedure so that someone else could easily follow these instructions and get the same results. Do not forget to use the metric system as you record your results.

IX. Observations/ Data

     In this section, you should include charts of all the measurements you have recorded, and all of the observations you have made during the experiment. This is a perfect place to include your journal; however it is also acceptable to include your journal as part of your appendix. If you decide to place the journal at the end of your notebook, then include a summary of the data and observations here.

X. Analysis

     The word analyze means to examine something carefully so as to identify causes, key factors, and possible results. Simply put, your analysis section is where you look at all of your results, and figure out what has happened. You should include any calculations you used to obtain your results, and then neatly prepare any tables, graphs, and or diagrams which will help you visually represent your results to others. Make sure any graphs are created using the manipulated (independent) variable on the X axis, and the responding (dependent) variable on the Y axis. Any graphs, tables or charts created from your data should be labeled and, if possible colorful. If possible, use a computer to prepare some or all of these data displays.

XI. Conclusion

     The conclusion summarizes, in about one page or less, what you discovered based on your experimental results. The conclusion re-states the hypothesis, and indicates whether the data you have gathered supports your expected outcome. Don't worry if your hypothesis was proved wrong, That's o.k.! The last section of the conclusion should also include a brief description of future plans based on your findings from this project.

XII. Bibliography

     Your bibliography is the place to let others know where you found the information relating to your project. Ideally you should gather your information from a variety of sources including books, interviews, magazine articles, and internet sites. The link below will help you format this information correctly.

Bibliography help page

XIII. Acknowledgments

     Even though technically your project is to be your work alone, it is permissible to have some help. This section is not simply a list of names, but a short paragraph acknowledging the people who helped you and briefly mentioning the type of help they provided.

XIV. Appendix

     This is an optional section for anything that you would like to include that does not fit in the other categories. Animal or Human consent forms, pictures, e-mails or other communications with scientists all could be placed in this section.



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