Note: your report should be no more than 2000 words and no less than 1700 words.
There are a number of books in the library, and for sale at the bookshop, which detail the ‘do
and don’ts’ of report writing. They are worth investigating.
In Australian vegetation and its management, reports should include the following:
Materials and methods
The report should be written in the impersonal past tense (you are reporting something you
The diversity and distribution of plant species at the Portsea Pub was investigated. NOT: I
investigated the diversity and distribution of plant species…..
The title should be succinct but informative. It should capture the readers’ attention so that
they want to continue reading. If they don’t read it, you have wasted your time writing it! It
should be 10 words or less. Rarely, is there a need for a longer title.
The Abstract is a brief outline of your report. For this report, it should be between 100 and
150 words in length and include the following basic components:
An opening statement(s) that indicates what you are doing, the underlying motivation
for the work and what knowledge gap the research fulfills; i.e. why the work is
What you did to get your results;
What you found out
A closing statement of why the results are important; e.g. what are the implications of
Examine some journal articles to identify the various components of an abstract.
The Introduction should ‘introduce’ your project. It should include your aim and/or
hypothesis and a scientific rationale for doing it. Any background information to indicate
what is known of the topic (literature review) or that might be necessary for the reader to
understand the report should be included as well. A good introduction should incorporate the
What was studied;
Why the study was carried out;
What knowledge already exists about the subject (literature review);
What the gaps in knowledge are (this should lead to the reason for your research);
What the purpose of the study was (aims).
Note: The reason for doing the project should not be ‘because it’s a requirement of the
The Introduction must be no longer than 350 words. It must be concise!
Examine some journal articles to identify the various components of an Introduction.
Materials and methods should include an account of the study site and its location. A map
showing the region involved and where any observations were made would be ideal. You
should include an insert of a Victorian map showing the study site with reference to the state
capital e.g. Fig. 1.
You should describe what was done and with what (e.g. healthy leaves from the sunniest
position on the plant were collected randomly from random plants and were placed in plastic
bags and kept in the dark within a refrigerator until examined one or two days later, e.t.c.).
The aim is to ensure that someone else, without prior knowledge of what you did, could
repeat your work. Don’t, however, give every last detail of a well-known method. Simply
give the source for the method as a normal reference. Never list your materials.
Examine some journal articles to identify the various components of a methods section and
how they are presented.
Fig. 1. Study area in north-west Victoria, Australia. Long term mean annual rainfall is 270, 334, 337,
373, 409 and 520 mm for sites 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 respectively.
Results should be in writing with reference to any tables, diagrams, photographs.
A total of 700 species were identified (Table 1) with the majority of species occurring near
the river. These were categorised into 12 life-forms (Fig. 1).
It is important to note that tables in your Results section should show some manipulation or
analysis of the raw data. It should not, however, discuss the results.
Tables, diagrams, photographs e.t.c. should be placed after the text in which they are
mentioned, not before. You should try to place tables, e.t.c. so that reading of the text is not
interrupted too much. The description of the results, within the text of your results section
should include the things you want to draw attention to. It cannot include as much detail as
occurs in a table or diagram but you do want people to ‘get a feel’ of your data and to get a
clear idea of the key pieces of data that you will use to support your argument.
Examine some journal articles to identify the various components of a Results section.
The Discussion should ‘discuss’ your results, that is, what is the significance of the results?
How do your results or arguments compare with work of other researchers? The most
frequent mistake made here is that people tend to repeat – not discuss – their results. Include
the implications of your findings e.g. what does it all mean? Are there implications for
management? What is the global context?
Examine some journal articles to identify the various components of a discussion and how
they are presented / argued.
The Reference section should include all citations made in the text. Use surname / date with
intext citations, e.g. Gibson 2014.
The full reference should be given in alphabetical order by the author’s surname, followed by
their initials, then the year of publication followed by the title of the article or book. If it is an
article, then include the title of the journal in which it occurs, the volume and the pages
concerned. If it is a book, the title should be followed by the publisher’s name(s). The title of
a book or journal should be in italics or underlined. The journal volume should be in bold.
Gibson M (2014) Why Am I Doing This? Journal of Psychotic Behaviour 99:10-16.
Smith J and Jones T (2010) Plant Ecology. (Brown Brothers: Milawa)
Any Appendices should be placed at the back of the report and be self-explanatory. You
should include all your raw data as an appendix for this assignment.
Scientific names of organisms should be used although, afterwards, you may refer to the
common name. Also, the authority, i.e. the person who named the organism, should be cited
at the first mention of the organism. Remember, scientific names are Latin and should be in
italics. The first mention of the organism should have the common name followed by the
scientific name, i.e. genus and species. Use of the scientific name following first mention
may be reduced simply to the first letter of the generic epithet followed by the species name
(see lecture 1). The exceptions are if the generic name is used to begin a sentence or if
confusion can occur between two organisms.
First mention: Southern Beech Nothofagus cunninghamii (Hook.) Oerst
Subsequent mention: Southern Beech or N. cunninghamii
Figures and Tables must be self-explanatory (i.e. they must have a title) and be cited in the
text and either immediately (or as practical) placed within the text, follow the text or be
placed on the following page.
Presentation: Reports must be typed, right and left justified, have Times Roman Font in 12
point, 1.5 spacing, a 2.5 cm margin on the left hand side, a 1.5 cm margin on the right side, a
2.5 cm margin at the top and a 2 cm margin at the bottom. Pages must be numbered in the top
right hand corner of the page. Pages must be single sided. The title of the project must be in
bold, lower case (except for the first letter of the first word), and centred. Then leave a line
and provide your title and affiliation.
During marking, particular attention will be paid that you have the following:
1. Used a significant dataset (e.g. size of data set appropriate to time provided);
2. An appropriate, succinct and informative title;
3. Context of project explained;
4. Appropriate background information provided;.
5. Sufficient and appropriate literature reviewed as demonstrated by quality and depth of
understanding shown throughout the report;
6. Gaps in current knowledge explained, i.e. contributes to rationale;
7. Methodology explained and validated;
8. Limitations/constraints explained; however, make sure you don’t include ‘insufficient
time’ as one of them as we all know this. Also, don’t use inexperience as an excuse as we
are presuming everyone is doing their best.
9. Results clearly presented and explained; Appropriate statistical analyses carried out.
10. Results discussed appropriately;
11. Implications discussed.
12. Associated topical issues discussed where appropriate.
13. Acknowledgements provided;
14. Good and easy to follow, logical explanation evident throughout
15. Quality and depth of understanding demonstrated throughout
16. Report is appropriately presented.
Getting Custom Writing Service with any of your academic assignments is easy. Simply click here.