Writing a Research Report for Voyages

We are especially interested in what is unique or different about the "culture" of the people you are working with. How is their relationship to time, space, and resources different from those in your own culture? What are their priorities? How do these cultural differences relate to your research questions?

You will need to restate your research question from last term. Define the broader issue and your specific questions or hypotheses. A hypothesis is a testable prediction that could potentially be wrong.

Your report should be from 9 to 15 pages and have these sections, in order: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References.

Title - A title should be short and accurately describe the content of the paper. Omit waste words such as "A study of . . . ", etc.

Abstract - The abstract should be self-contained and summarize the concepts, hypotheses, results, and conclusions of the work. Limit the abstract to a maximum of 150.

Introduction - Set the context of your work, including the general concepts, questions, and relevant published work. Make it clear why this is an interesting or important issue. Link your work to larger concepts, but don't overgeneralize.
The closing paragraph of the introduction should state clearly your questions or hypotheses. Avoid listing them.

Methods - How have you gathered your information: from published sources, surveys, field measurements, experiments, interviews? Provide details including your reasons for selecting a particular group for study.

Results - Present the findings of your work. Data (if any) should be summarized and presented in tables or graphs. Present clearly your statistical tests and their results. Be concise. However, you will need to explain the important features of your results that will be necessary for interpretation. Interpretation should be left as much as possible for the Discussion.

Graphs and tables should be, as much as possible, fully self-contained. Do not simply point to a graph or figure, such as, "The data on seagull mortality are shown in Figure 4." Rather, say "Mortality of seagulls was highest in nestlings during the week before fledging (Fig. 4)."

All graphs, drawings, and diagrams should be labeled as figures (Fig. 1, etc.) and numbered consecutively. Number tables as Table 1, etc. Do not use color unless it is absolutely necessary. Headings above the Tables provide any information necessary for understanding it; figure legends are placed below the graphs. Do not present any information that you don't discuss in the text.

Discussion - Interpret your results in the context of your questions or hypotheses. Compare and contrast your work to the published work of others. Interpret any similarities or differences, including a discussion of relevant differences in organisms, study conditions, or methods. You will need to refer to your results, but do not repeat them.

Connect your work to a larger context. Why should someone working in a different situation be interested in what you have to say? However, be careful not to overgeneralize or overextend the applicability of your results.

References - Cite your sources in MLA formats. Any material lifted directly from other published work should be placed in quotations in the text, in addition to citing the sources. Minor modifications (paraphrasing) simply to avoid quotations are not acceptable.
References should cite peer-reviewed research when possible. Books, technical reports, etc., are also acceptable but avoid citing unpublished work or personal communications. You should consistently follow an established format for citations (both in the text and the list of references).

Formatting - The manuscript should be typed with double spacing throughout. Margins should be 3 cm on the left and 2 cm to the right top and bottom, to leave space for detailed comments. Left-justify the text. The paragraph structure should represent the logical structure. Use of topic sentences, concluding sentences, and transitional sentences is highly desirable.


Latin: etc. not ect.; i.e. means "that is." e.g. means "for example." et al. means "and others." The word "data" is plural ("The data are . . . ," not, "The data is . . . ")

That vs. which: Describe an entire group using "which," for example "crows, which are black…." Indicate a subset of a group by using "that," such as "birds that are black…"

"Like" means "similar to." Use "such as" or "for example" to provide an example, e.g. "trees of western Washington, such as Douglas-fir . . . ," not "trees of western Washington, like Douglas-fir . . . "

More help

The Writing Center is there to help you. You can call (360) 867 6420 for an appointment, or check their website:
Web Team. The Evergreen Writing Center. 10 October 2002. URL: http://www.evergreen.edu/writingcenter/home.htm Viewed 23 January 2002.

The MLA citation formats are available at:
Robert Delaney. MLA Citation Style. 4 November 2002. Scwartz Memorial Library, Long Island University. URL: http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citmla.htm Viewed: 23 January

For help on how to cite web pages and other internet sources, see:
Shackle, Linda. Citing Electronic Resources. Arizona State University Libraries, May 1998. URL: http://www.asu.edu/lib/noble/library/cit_elec.htm Viewed: 23 January 2003.