How to Write a Practical Report: Depth Study Template | Physics Study Guide Part 4

Do you need help with writing your depth study report? Read this guide to learn how to write a practical report for your depth study. Free depth study template included.

Do you have a practical investigation for your depth study?

If you have been given a practical investigation as part of your depth study assessment, you’ll be required to write a scientific practical report. If you are wondering about how to write a practical report or looking for a depth study template, you’ll find it all here!

In this article, we’re going to discuss:

 

What is a scientific practical report or ‘prac report’?

‘Prac reports’ are a formal way of documenting practical experiments. They summarise:

  • the reasons for conducting an investigation
  • describe how it was carried out, and
  • record and reflect on the findings.

Practical reports have a well defined structure to ensure all of the relevant information is included. They also need to be written in a way that is easy for others to understand and replicate.

We recommend that you use the following depth study template for a practical report to ensure you are adopting the right structure.

 

What is the structure of a practical report in depth study? (Depth Study Template)

Practical reports consist of the following sections:

Each section of the Depth Study Template for a practical report is explained below.

 

Title

The title of a practical report is a short description of the practical investigation. It contains sufficient information for the reader to understand what the experiment is about.

 

Abstract (optional)

What is the abstract?

The abstract is a precise summary of the whole report. Its function is to preview the contents of your report so that the reader can judge whether it is worth their while to read the whole report.

What should be included in the abstract?

In your abstract, you need to include:

  • an objective of the experiment
  • a short description of the method used
  • the main results and
  • the conclusions of the results.

How long should the abstract be?

The abstract should normally be a single paragraph between 100 and 200 words.

 

Introduction

What is introduction?

The introduction describes why the report is important and what the report is about. It provides relevant background information about the topic being investigated.

What should be included in the introduction?

In your introduction, you need to include the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the inquiry question being asked?
  • What do you hope to learn from the investigation?
  • Why is this investigation important?

It is easier to write the introduction after you have written your method and results section of the report.

 

Hypothesis

What is the hypothesis?

A hypothesis is a testable statement about a relationship between two variables. It is a prediction that you can test through an experiment.

In an experimental hypothesis, there is a relationship between the two variables being studied (one variable has an effect on the other). It implies that the results are not due to chance and that they are significant in terms of supporting the theory being investigated.

How do you write a hypothesis?

  • Step 1: To write a hypotheses for an investigation, you need to identify the key variables (independent and dependent) in the study.
    • The independent variable is the variable the experimenter changes or controls and is assumed to have a direct effect on the dependent variable.
    • The dependent variable is the variable being tested and measured in an experiment, and is ‘dependent’ on the independent variable
  • Step 2: Establish a relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Is there evidence to support a specific effect by the independent variable on the dependent variable?
  • Step 3: Write a concise hypothesis that uses clear and simple language in terms of the variables.

 

Examples of hypothesis

TopicHypothesis
Projectile MotionThat the range of a projectile will increase as the horizontal launch velocity is increased.
Circular MotionThat the centripetal force will increase as the speed of the rotation is increased.
The motor effectThat the torque in a simple DC motor increases with increasing supply voltage.
Electromagnetic inductionThat as the area of the rotating wheel increases, the time taken to come to a stop decreases.

 

Aim

What is the aim?

The aim provides a succinct description of the objective of your experiment.

How to write the aim

The aim is often written in one of the following formats:

  • “This experiment aims to… ” or
  • “The purpose of this investigation is to…”.

Example: This experiment aims to determine the relationship between horizontal range and launch velocity.

 

Method

What is the method?

The method describes the materials and the procedure used to conduct the experiment.

It is recommended that you explain why you chose a particular method.

What should be included in the method?

In your method, you should include:

  • Identification of independent, dependent and control variables. Details of how the control variables were controlled need to be provided.
  • Risk assessment
  • A list of materials used
  • A labelled diagram or picture of your experimental setup
  • Procedure describing how the data was collected. The procedure needs to be written in past tense and specify chronological sequence of events in the experiment in enough detail so that the experiment could be easily repeated by someone else.

Risk assessment

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a process of identifying and evaluating the risks that are involved in the procedure of your practical investigation.

Identifying risks within your experiment and how to mitigate these risks is integral to the safety of the person carrying out the practical investigation

What should be included in the risk assessment?

A risk assessment contains three main components:

  1. Identifying the source of risk
  2. The potential hazard associated with the risk
  3. How to minimise the risk

A risk assessment is always presented in table format. An example of a risk assessment format is provided below

Source of RiskPotential HazardProcedure to Minimise Risk
250mL glass beakerBroken glass can cause cuts to skinHandle glass beaker with care. Do not place near ledges where it can fall
Bunsen burnerOpen flame is very hot and can cause burns to skinDo not touch open flame. Use the safety flame when not using the blue flame. Do not use bunsen burner if rubber hose is damaged
ScissorsSharp blades of scissors can cut skinTake care when handling. Store when not in use

Results

What are the results?

The results provide your findings of the experiment.

Results describe (not explain) your findings.

What is included in the results?

The results include qualitative and quantitative description of your findings.

In quantitative results, your collected data is organised in a table format and must include:

  • Appropriate columns and corresponding labels and units
  • At least 4 – 5 data points
  • Averages of data points

A scaffold of an appropriate results table is provided below.

Independent Variable (units)Dependent Variable (units)
Trial 1Trial 2Trial 3Trial 4Average

 

In qualitative results, you will need to use both the past tense and the present tense.

  • The past tense is used to describe results and analyses. For example, “The results indicated horizontal and vertical motions are independent of each other.”
  • The present tense is used with results that the reader can see such as averages, tables and figures. For example, “The average time taken for a ball to reach the ground in Table 2 shows that it is independent of the horizontal launch velocity.”

 

Discussion

What is the discussion?

The discussion explains (not describes) the results of your experiment and discusses the significance of your findings.

What is included in the discussion?

Your discussion needs to include:

  • Quantitative analysis of your results involving graphs and calculations. When drawing a graph, you should note the following:
    • Correct axis on graph – independent and dependent variables correspond with correct axis
    • Uniform scale
    • Both axis are labelled and include correct units
    • Data points are plotted
  • Qualitative explanation of your results involving
    • Assessment of whether and how the questions raised in the introduction (aim) have been answered
    • Evaluation of the method and sources of error in the experiment
    • Identification and justification of improvements to the experiment in relation to accuracy, reliability and validity

 

Conclusion

The conclusion answers the aim and summarises what the experiment has contributed to in understanding of the problem posed.

 

References

What is a reference?

A reference is a piece of information within the report that provides an acknowledgment of the use of someone else’s work. This is the final section of the depth study template and perhaps the most important for negating any signs of plagiarism in your work.

What is included in the references?

It is essential to include a reference list or bibliography of the reference material you referred during your research for the experiment.

  • bibliography is a list of all the reference material you consulted during your research for the experiment.
  • reference list is a list of all the references cited in the text of your report, listed in alphabetical order at the end of the report.

In a reference list, sources are listed alphabetically by the surname of the author and when reference is made to more than one work by an author/s, list them chronologically, ending with the most recent work.

How to write correct references?

There are several systems of referencing such as the Harvard or author-date system. You can use this website for creating Harvard, APA & MLA citations for your bibliography

Depending on your school teacher, you may be asked to use Harvard or APA citations. Below is scaffolds and examples of Harvard and APA citations.

Harvard citations

How to provide Harvard citations for different media is outlined below.

Journal article

Author(s) surname, Initials. (year of publication). Article title, Journal title. Volume number (issue number), pp.(pages)

Example: Ehrlich, R. (1992). The Exploratorium Science Snackbook: Teacher Created Versions Of Exploratorium Exhibits. Physics Today. 45(3), pp.65-68

Website

Author(s) surname, Initials. (year of publication). Webpage title. [online] Website name. Available at URL, [Accessed (date)]

Example: Gyorki, J. (2010). How to Determine Digital Multimeter Accuracy. [online] Design World. Available at https://www.designworldonline.com/how-to-determine-digital-multimeter-accuracy/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019]

APA citations

How to provide APA citations for different media is outlined below.

Journal article

Author(s) surname, Initials, (year of publication). Title of journal. Place of publication

Example: Farr, R., Wilson, K., Philip, Y., Gossens, D. (2018). Physics in Focus Year 12. Cengage Learning Australia, Victoria.

 

Website

Author(s) surname, Initials, (year of publication). Title of website. Retrieved from URL

Example: Gyorki, J. (2010). How to determine Digital Multimeter Accuracy. Retrieved from https://www.designworldonline.com/how-to-determine-digital-multimeter-accuracy/

If there are more than 4 authors

If there are more than 4 authors for a website or a journal article, they are referred to as [main author et al.]. This applies to both Harvard and APA citations.

Example: Munday et al. (2010). Replenishment of fish population is threatened by ocean acidification. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/107/29/12930

 

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Written by DJ Kim

DJ is the founder of Learnable and has a passionate interest in education and technology. He is also the author of Physics resources on Learnable.

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