How to do a Deadly EEI

By Derrick Rivera,2014-05-02 06:57
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How to do a Deadly EEIHow,Eei,how,eei,EEI

    How to do a Deadly EEI

    - by Dr Richard Walding, Research Fellow, School of Science, Griffith University


    Students: These are some hints about the requirements of a high quality Extended Experimental Investigation for the Queensland Senior Physics Syllabus. Guidelines given to you by your teacher should take precedence if there is any doubt. They are addressing a Year 12 EEI but will still guide you for Year 11. They refer to a hypothesis-testing EEI.

What’s the purpose of an EEI?

    You‟ll do an EEI to research a question you have about some physics-related phenomena you have come across. In the process you gain a better understanding of the concepts. It does not matter that your experiment has been done a thousand times before or that your teacher already knows the results. What matters is that you don't know the results and that you can work independently to find a verifiable answer.

Should I work in a group or by myself?

    The decision about working individually or in a group should be given careful consideration. In the real

    world, scientists work collaboratively across the full range of activities associated with a research task. Not all aspects of an EEI lend themselves to group work and while it is appropriate for you to work in a team to develop ideas and collect data your final report must show clear evidence of individual research, planning and analysis that uniquely reflects your understanding of and conclusions related to the research question. Conducting an EEI as an individual avoids some of the issues mentioned above but you still have the opportunity to discuss aspects of your EEI with other students who are working on a similar research question and collaborate in the collection of data.

What are some tips for successful group work?

    Here are the best nine:

     Work in a team, be inclusive

     Establish each person‟s role by negotiation and make use of other people‟s strengths

     Monitor and redefine timelines to suit progress

     Participate in activities: be active and show consistent behaviour in group activities Show interest when others are speaking and be an attentive listener

     Participate in discussions: be active and maintain focus when group decision making is occuring Welcome different justified opinions as valid and incorporate these views; be inclusive Encourage participation of all and be sensitive to others‟ needs

     Show leadership in developing consensus and resolving conflicts.

How do I find a research focus (topic) for my EEI?

    If you are in Year 11, you are most likely to be given an EEI topic by your teacher or are told to choose from a list of maybe half-a-dozen. This helps your teacher concentrate on experimental design, measurement and management skills. In Year 12 however, you are most likely to be given a much more free choice of the topic either within a specific context you may be currently studying, or outside of this. Wise choice of a topic can make or break your EEI. There are several ways to decide:

    1. As you progress through your course of study identify concepts/ideas/applications that might be

    useful as a research focus for an EEI. That is, you should keep in mind some investigation you liked

    or wanted to know more about.

    2. You could select from a list of ideas. Google “physics science fair projects” and you‟ll see a lot.

    Alternatively look at the website

    3. It might be possible to introduce a degree of complexity to a simple investigation that you have

    encountered in class time. For example, you may have measured the latent heat if vaporization of

    water and then turn this into an EEI by aiming to measure the specific heat of salt water.

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    4. Lastly, you could have a „brainstorming session‟. Get together with a group of other students and

    think up as many ideas as you can. Think creatively. Don‟t comment on each of the ideas that come

    up. Do not criticise the ideas of others. Some ideas may seem silly or impractical but they can often

    act as a stimulus and trigger other ideas. The more ideas that are generated, the more likely it is that

    some of the ideas will prove useful. One member of the group needs to write down the ideas as they

    are generated. All students need to be involved in listening and thinking. When you have finished

    brainstorming take a look at the list that has been generated. Select from the list just four or five

    ideas which you think you might be interested in and able to investigate. As a group try to identify

    how you would carry out an investigation into these topics.

How do I decide on a Research Question?

    Once you have decided the research topic you need to formulate a Research Question. It is often a broad question and identifies a query about the 'world out there'. For example, you may ask: What effect will

    temperature have on the resistance of some wire? It must be a question so it should start with: How or What

    (forget about who, when, where and why; this is Physics not History or Geography).

    This is where many students first get into trouble; that is, proposing a research topic without formulating a good Research Question to guide their investigation. For example (this is what not to do): say your research

    topic is telescopes (which is fine) but your Research Question is How to make and test a telescope. A

    research question of this nature will limit your ability to access the criteria at the upper end of the achievement continuum. If you do something like this you are doomed from the start as it is not specific enough. You need to establish a research topic that will allow you to demonstrate engagement with the investigative process.

    The other things students do is to propose Research Questions that are little more than laboratory analysis, e.g. “what is the specific heat of brass?”. This will not lead to a good EEI; it is just laboratory analysis

    without any design and critical thinking. If it “was what is the best method for measuring the specific heat of

    metals” , you would be off to a better start.

What’s the difference in wording between an Aim and a Research Question?

    You will need to develop a properly worded “Aim” for your investigation but leave the exact wording until

    later. The Aim is a refinement of the broad Research Question; it narrows and describes the parameters actually used within the experiment. It should be in the form of an explicit statement (beginning with the word “To”) relating to your variables, eg: “To investigate the effect of (independent variable) on (dependent variable) when (controlled variables) are kept constant”. Here‟s an example: “To investigate the effect of

    temperature on the resistance of nichrome wire when its length and cross-sectional area are kept constant”.

    You could have an even more explicit Aim: “To investigate the effect of temperature on the resistance of a 2.” This aim allows us to set the boundaries 50.0 cm length nichrome wire of cross-sectional area 1.0 mm

    within which the investigation will proceed. It is critically important as it makes sure your investigation will not be too big or too small.

Do I need a hypothesis?

    Not all scientific research involves testing hypotheses but for a Senior Physics EEI, most schools will require it. There is no mention in the syllabus of necessarily proposing a hypothesis but most teachers make

    it a requirement of the task. These guidelines are written with that in mind. The formulation of a hypothesis forces you to state clearly what you intend to measure and change. This is crucial as a lead in to your experimental design.

How do I write a hypothesis?

    In real experiments, real hypotheses should be written before the actual experiment begins. A hypothesis should not be confused with a theory. Theories are general explanations based on a large amount of data. For example, Newton‟s theory about gravitation applies to all matter and is confirmed by a wide range of

    observations. However, there are many things about gravity that are not fully understood so physicists are forever proposing and testing hypotheses about it. Usually, a hypothesis is based on some previous

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    observation. For example: noticing that the pitch of a guitar string increases when it is tightened. Are these two events connected and, if so, in what way?

    Terminology reminder: Formalized hypotheses contain two variables. One is “independent” or sometimes called “manipulated”; and the other is “dependent”. The independent variable is the one you, the “student physicist”, manipulates (changes) and the dependent variable is the one that you observe and/or measure the results of. Factors that you control are called the “controlled” variables. In the example above, the

    manipulated variable is temperature, the dependent variable is resistance, and the controlled variables are

    the type of wire, its length and cross-sectional area, and the voltage.

    Writing a hypothesis is the tricky part and probably the most important part of an EEI. All EEIs have a Research Question followed by a more specific Aim, generally followed by a „testable‟ hypothesis. This

    hypothesis gives a tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, scientific problem (posed in the Research Question) that can be tested by investigation. Most of the time a hypothesis begins like this: That

    as ____(this is done) _____, then _____(this will happen) . For example, a hypothesis for the electricity

    question above might be: That as the temperature is increased then the resistance will decrease. In general:

    That as __________ increases _______ will increase/decrease/ stay the same.

    A Deadly hypothesis goes further. It will present: (a) this general statement; (b) identify the expected form of the relationship between the variables; and (c) the controlled parameters identified.

    For example: It was hypothesised that the resistance of nichrome wire of will decrease with temperature in the form of R is inversely proportional to T when the length, cross sectional area and potential difference across its ends is kept constant.

    It was hypothesized that…

    if (the independent variable is changed in this way) ,

    then (the dependent variable will respond in this way )

    when …(the controlled variables are kept this way).

    For all hypotheses you must decide on the three types of variables and state them in your report.

How can I state a hypothesis if I don’t know what will happen when I make a change?

    The ultimate value of a formalized hypothesis is it forces you to think about what results you should look for in an experiment and should inform (be the basis for) the experimental design. If you are not sure what will happen to the dependent variable when you make the changes to the independent variable then you could use the word “may”. For example: if the temperature of a golf ball is increased then the bounce height may change. This is still a hypothesis because it uses the tentative word “may” but it lacks complexity and thus

    limits your capacity to demonstrate the higher order thinking skills required to access the criteria at the higher achievement levels. You‟d be better off reading up on the physics theory and making the statement definite: if the temperature of a golf ball is increased then the bounce height will decrease. So what if your

    hypothesis is not confirmed? So long as you can base it on well-argued physics theory then it won‟t matter.

    Nobel laureate and Brisbane-based scientist Peter Doherty said that he often writes his hypotheses after the

    experiments are finished to make the report easier to understand.

How many variables should I investigate?

    So that you have sufficient time for the experiment you may chose to investigate only one dependent and one independent variable. However, depending on the complexity of the task, you may find it necessary to investigate more than one variable so as to allow a depth of analysis. To ensure that the task allows for a sufficient degree of complexity it may be necessary to include two independent variables. This will depend upon the nature of the research focus. For the resistance experiment a second independent variable could be the diameter of the wire. Or you could change the type of wire - compare nichrome with platinum etc and see if their temperature/resistance curves are similar. The concern with selecting too many dependent variables is that

    the experimental design will become increasingly more complex and you risk taking on more than can be achieved in the time available. So be warned and take the time to discuss you planning with your teacher.

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What makes a good Hypothesis?

    Your hypothesis should be something that you can actually test - what's called a testable hypothesis. In

    other words, you need to be able to measure both what you do (change the temperature) and what will

    happen (resistance will change). It also forms the basis of your later analysis of the data.

The requirements for a good hypothesis includes the magnificent seven:

    1. It has to define the variables. That is, state the dependent and independent variables (and mention the

    controlled variables).

2. It has to link the variables. That is, it must make a statement about a change in the independent

    variable (IV) and its effect on the dependent variable (DV) in the form: if…then….

    3. It has to be testable. That is, you can actually carry out the investigation and get some results which

    will clearly either support or refute (contradict) the hypothesis. Some examples are:

     if the temperature of a golf ball (IV) is increased then it‟s bounce height (DV) will decrease;

     if the canopy area of a parachute (IV) is decreased then it‟s drop time (DV) will also decrease.

     Note: If your investigation is more trial and error then you may choose a more general statement (a

    “prediction” rather than a formalized hypothesis):

     if the mass of water, pressure and nozzle diameter of a water rocket are changed then the maximum

    height will change;

     if the shape of the tail fetches of an arrow are changed then the arrow‟s range will change.

     A hypothesis that would not be testable is: as the Earth warms then the amount of carbon dioxide in the

    oceans decreases.

    4. It has to be significant. That is, it has to be worth knowing and not too trivial. An important question

    to ask is: are my results of practical or scientific importance (eg design of insulation in clothing, sporting

    gear, electronic equipment, adding to scientific knowledge etc). A hypothesis is also not significant if it

    is just about proving what is already well known (eg Newton‟s Second Law) or something that is too

    dumb: eg that if water is heated then its temperature rises. Don‟t just state the bleeding obvious!!

    5. It has to be valid. That is, it has to be based on some physics concept, idea, law or principle. The

    hypotheses given in Point 3 above are all valid. Hypotheses that are not valid would include:

     that chocolate ice-cream tastes better than vanilla (this is Physics not Playschool);

     that the specific heat of a metal varies with the time of day (it may be testable but what are the

    physics principles?).

    6. It’s testing has to be manageable. That is, it has to be able to be conducted over a period of a few

    weeks. It would be of no use to begin an experiment on the annual variation of geomagnetism and

    expect useful results over two weeks. As well, you should consider if you can manage with the usual

    laboratory or home equipment. It is no good expecting the school to order equipment or chemicals as

    they may take weeks to arrive; and you should also find out if your school will be paying for it. You

    could assume that technical advice about using equipment (e.g. data loggers, video capture cameras,

    computer interfaces, CROs etc will be given by your teacher or the laboratory technicians but this may

    not always be the case.

    7. It’s testing has to be safe. You shouldn‟t formulate an EEI that requires adult supervision (driving a car,

    using radioactive samples, firing arrows or bullets, heat of combustion of petrol) when no supervision

    will be available or the hazards cannot be minimized or controlled. You will be expected to complete a

    Risk Assessment form anyway so it might be best to quickly decide if your project is safe from the

    outset and not waste time.

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Do I need a logbook or journal? If so, what do I keep in it; is it assessed?

    A logbook or journal is notebook in which you can record your research question, aim, hypothesis, the list of equipment that you need, your method, all results and all other work. Practicing scientists use this technique all the time. Essentially, it is a no-frills, on-the-spot recording of the essentials of your work in one place and can be later used for your report writing. If you make changes to the method or if you have problems which need to be overcome, this information should be recorded. You might like to include diagrams of the equipment that you used, especially if it is a very special arrangement of unusual equipment. If you have difficulty with drawing, a photograph could be useful. It need only be intelligible to you but it may be used to verify the authenticity of your work. A note from a professional scientist can be found at Your teacher may choose to have you record your notes in the form of a

    blog (which then includes a date stamp).

    Start writing in your journal from the start. Make a note of the date of each entry. Glue in sheets you have run off or have photocopied. Your journal may not be directly assessable but it can be used to verify that you have engaged in the research process. But teachers and review panels may choose to refer to your journal as a way of authenticating your work. You may prefer to keep your journal electronically as you go, so obviously it is okay for these to be typed. You may have to submit a printed copy with your report.

How much background research do I need to do?

    You may be given class time to develop your research question, write a hypothesis and find supporting information.

    There are two areas that you need to collect information for. Both require reference to physics principles, facts and concepts. They are your:

    (a) Research focus (topic): what is the background theory

    (b) Hypothesis: how can it be justified

You may spend some time on (a) before you can move on to (b).

    References: Keep detailed record of references as you collect information, not later. Have you used a variety of sources (not just Wikipedia)? How reliable are the sources?

(a) What is needed for the background theory for my research topic?

    When you come to write your Introduction you will need to demonstrate to the reader your awareness of how you're building on other scientists' work. As this stage you should be locating, identifying and collecting relevant data and information.

    You will need to develop an understanding of the principles of your chosen topic. By use of the library, internet, textbooks or other source of information (parent, expert, others in your group) you should clarify some or all of the following:

     Why your research topic has been chosen by you (is it personally relevant, e.g. your sport, hobby, career

    interest, personal needs, home life; is it important to industry, the environment or commerce; is it important

    for increasing an understanding the world about you, and so on). Even if your EEI topic has been given to

    you by the teacher (often in Year 11) you can still make a case for relevance.

     What do we know already about this issue (up-to-date facts about the physics principles behind my research


     Were there earlier ideas that have been overturned (perhaps a little bit about the history of the idea). How is it measured (what measurement techniques might I use, and what others would be good but I

    have no access to them).

    The information must continually refer to your research question. Irrelevant content will be easily noticed and it will detract from your work.

(b) What is needed for justification of my hypothesis?

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The second theoretical part of an EEI is about justifying your hypothesis, again by referring to physics

    principles. You will be given hints about writing your report later but you must be aware of what you are looking for otherwise you will waste time just scrolling through pages of irrelevant physics information. The key phrase is justifying your hypothesis. You have to show the reader that your hypothesis makes sense and is

    backed up by physics theory. So at this stage of the research process just gather information specifically related

    to your hypothesis.

1. Facts: Gather facts and information: they must be relevant to the hypothesis. Don‟t just copy chunks of

    information unless it is relevant or helps you understand the concepts. This probably will include formulae so keep a note of the quantities (eg resistance, temperature), symbols (R, T) and units (ohms, ;; kelvin, K). You

    can select the useful information later.

    2. Linking: Gather information to link the information together so that it tentatively supports your hypothesis. Eg: the nature of resistance and how temperature affects a metal? The key word is linking: don‟t try

    to pretend you have linked the ideas. It will be so obvious to the teacher if you haven‟t.

    3. Measurement: Gather information about how the variables are to be measured. Ask: what instrument is used, how does it work, how is it connected up, and what are the techniques for using it and reading it accurately? It is important at this stage that you take note of the uncertainties involved in the measuring process. Later, you will take all of these measurement uncertainties into account and calculate both your absolute and residual errors involved in your investigation and make some sensible analysis of your results and measurements in the light of these errors. For instance, it is commonly assumed that any reading can be made to within a half-scale division of the measuring instrument. For a ruler graduated in millimetres this would mean an uncertainty of ? 0.5 mm and you would record this in your journal.

How do I design my investigation?

    In your journal:

     Define your variables. What is your:

     independent (manipulated) variable/s (what you will change)

     dependent variable/s (the result)

     controlled variables (what you will keep constant).

     Plan your approach:

     Draw a diagram of your setup;

     Make some rough estimates of the quantities you will be measuring (volume, time, temperature, mass,

    length, voltage, angle…);

     Decide on how many trials to do. Three trials (i.e. three different values for the independent variable)

    may give enough data if the relationship is linear, but be warned, errors in measurement could cause an

    illusion of a linear relationship where none really exists. Four or five trials (i.e. with different values for the

    IV each time) are far better and should be considered a minimum; 7-9 data points would be better still if you

    really want a justifiable equation for your proposed relationships. For each trial you would be wise to collect

    data in duplicate (2), or even better, in triplicate (3). This is also useful for calculating your residual errors

    and helping with justification.

     State the method briefly; propose a data table with columns labelled. Allow space for triplicate trials and

    an average if that‟s what you are doing.

     Decide what equipment will be necessary.

     Ensure the design of the experiment is both effective (will test the hypothesis) and efficient (not a lot of

    wasted time). For example, you don‟t want to have to reassemble the equipment for each trial.

     Ensure that you assess the risk and make a selection or adaptation of equipment with safety in mind. Ensure you use appropriate technology to gather, record and process the data.

What happens if there are concerns about the viability of my EEI proposal?

    By this stage you will probably have reached the first Checkpoint (or Monitoring) and will have to complete some forms for your teacher. If you can state your Research Question, Hypothesis and overview of the plan you

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    should get a quick go-ahead. Often various forms are to be submitted to your teacher for review and approval. They may include:

     Research Proposal Sheet.

     Risk Assessment Sheet

     Materials Requisition Sheet (be as specific as you can to speed things up).

How will I know what size to make the variables?

    EITHER Use formulae and calculations to establish a range of workable values;

    OR - Do some preliminary trials (sometimes called a Pilot Study) and you should record all observations,

    measurements, problems, changes in approach and modifications to your initial plans and procedure in your journal. If it doesn‟t work and looks like it will never work then talk to your teacher and perhaps abandon it quickly.

How long should I spend on the laboratory work itself?

    You would be wise to restrict the time spent on the experimental work to between one-quarter and one-half of the total time. You should record all observations, measurements, problems in your journal. Once you start analysing your data you‟ll probably find some anomalies that you‟ll want to go back and check. Be prepared for this. You may think you have plenty of time but students always find they have to rush the report writing to meet the deadline.

What is expected in a good EEI Report?

    A EEI Report is all about communicating ideas clearly and concisely. Remember you are not graded on the amount of forest cleared to make the paper used in your report. The syllabus makes it quite clear: for an “A”

    there should be discriminating selection, use and presentation of scientific data and ideas to make meaning accessible to intended audiences. Your intended audience may be specified in the criteria sheet but if it isn‟t

    assume that it is one of your peers (Senior Physics students). Your goal should be for the information that you present to flow effortlessly from the page into the reader's mind without the reader's head ever snapping back in shock or drooping forwards as they doze. It takes a lot of practice to become a good writer, and you aren't going to master the art overnight. But here are a few tips for you to focus on that will help you find your voice and keep your audience.

Firstly, always, always, always write in clear, declarative sentences. Declarative means that the sentence

    simply states an idea or piece of information; it is not a command, request or question. This article you are reading has short and clear sentences. The topic sentence grabs your attention, just as any good topic sentence should. Each idea thereafter flows naturally into the next. This is how you should strive to write every paragraph of your EEI Report.

    Whatever you do, don't overwork your sentences! Each sentence should contain just one complete idea. Too many run-on sentences read like the writer let him/herself be swept away in their own stream of consciousness. Was the writer too lazy to think about what he or she was trying to say?

Should I use passive voice?

    Virtually every science paper is written in passive voice. However, prize-winning writers who know how to write hate passive voice, they struggle against passive voice at every opportunity. Why? Because passive voice seems boring as it makes the object of an action (the brass weights, the inclined plane) the subject of the sentence, rather than relating that a person (I, we) carried out the action.

Active voice using personal pronouns is not recommended:

    Examples are: “We adjusted the inclined plane to...”. or “We took the data...”.

But the Passive voice is recommended for scientific reports.

    Examples are: This inclined plane was adjusted to ... or “The data was/were taken...”

    It is customary to use passive voice in scientific work but you should check the task criteria sheet because your teacher might want you to try something different by presenting your EEI in a different format. Many

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prestigious scientific journals now accept active voice. Remember, the key point is to make meaning


How technical should I get?

    Scientists often use technical terms when communicating with each other in the same field but you must judge which technical terms need explaining. You should reserve technical jargon that is not familiar to fellow students only for those instances when jargon is actually appropriate. Students sometimes believe they can hide their ignorance or poor technique behind a smoke-screen of obtuse language. Being difficult to understand doesn't make your writing sound more knowledgeable. It does more harm than good. Pretend you are explaining it to a classmate who has been away. Oscillation and flux density are okay, but

    anisotropy, isochoric and nanoarchitectonic need explaining.

    In summary:

     short, clear, declarative sentences; consistent tense

     familiar language

     no unnecessary words

     limit technical jargon and explain unfamiliar terms

     grammar and spelling are free of error*

     technical terms have been used appropriately.

    *Note you must proof-read your report. Too many students simply trust the spell and grammar check on MSWord to do the editing work for them and miss some critical literacy issues.

What are the main parts of the report?

    You will need to write an individual report but you can work on the design and data collection in collaboration with others in your group although it must be noted that design of investigation and management of the investigation are individually assessed criteria. Report writing involves collating all you‟ve done into a report

    of your investigation. It should be like a story that unfolds as you go, making the reader wonder how well the hypothesis was confirmed. But it should also be persuasive, in the sense that you are persuading the reader that you were honest and accurate, and manipulated the variables carefully and it is undeniable that your conclusion follows logically. Other people‟s ideas, statements, diagrams, photos and so on should be correctly referenced. Your work must not contain plagiarised material this also includes copying large sections of the report from

    other members in your group. Consult one of the „what is plagiarism‟ websites if you don‟t have it on your

    school‟s intranet.

     How much feedback should I expect from my draft report?

    The amount and format of feedback provided to students is usually determined at the school level but in general, you are more likely to get more feedback in Year 11 than in Year 12. Remember that ongoing discussion with your teacher as the EEI progresses is a form of feedback and probably more valuable, in many respects, that feedback on your draft report. You may be required to submit a draft of your report to your teacher for comment (usually once only) but remember that the amount and type of feedback given will be in general rather than specific terms to ensure that the final report reflects your understanding rather than your teacher‟s understanding.

What about word length; can I go over the recommended limit?

    The syllabus “recommends” a range of 800-1000 words for Year 11 and 1000-1500 words for Year 12. It is

    only a recommendation and refers to the “Discussion and Conclusion” only; the abstract, introduction, justification, method, results and analysis and not included in this limit. In a later section you will see that you can go over this limit if you have to with certain provisions.


    The words of the great scientist Schrödinger are worth quoting here: “if you cannot – in the long run tell

    everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless”. This is just as true for EEIs. When

    writing an EEI report your evidence and arguments should be provided in a very logical order that makes it

    easy and interesting to follow your train of thought. The headings given below are typical of an EEI report and will help you achieve this logical flow.

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1. Title Page: subject, assessment task type, title, your name, date, teacher‟s name. You may have to make a

    statement that this is your own work, and it may have to be countersigned by your parents. The task sheet will tell you this.

2. Table of Contents: include the page numbers for the beginning of each section.

3. Abstract (or Executive Summary) not all schools require this.

    Note: write this after you have written the rest of your report. An abstract is a paragraph, that if read by

    itself, summarises the project in the least possible words (usually 100 200). It should include the aim,

    principles/techniques employed and a very brief statement of your results and conclusions. The criteria used will be: The abstract is a clear, concise, accurate representation of the project, linking the main ideas together well without added interpretation or criticism, misunderstandings or unnecessary details.

1. Begin with a topic sentence that is the major thesis (the Aim).

    2. Purpose: state the research question and hypotheses

    2. Method: the design

    3. Results: concisely

    4. Conclusions: implications of results. Can be recommendations, evaluations, applications, suggestions, new

    relationships, and hypotheses accepted or rejected.

    5. Other information incidental findings to the main purpose of the document but must not distract attention

    from main theme.

Write one paragraph.

     Write in complete sentences.

     Use transition words to make the sentences flow (besides, furthermore, in addition, for example, for

    instance, in particular, finally, consequently, hence, although, however, in comparison, subsequently). No equations or images and no references.

What Are The Criteria For Judging A Good Abstract?

    The usual criteria by which the quality of an abstract is judged include: exhaustivity, accuracy, readability and coherence.

    Exhaustivity deals with how extensively the abstract represents the original document in terms of the ideas, conclusions and so on in the original and yet maintains its brevity. Ask yourself the questions: Is there enough important information included in the abstract; and are unnecessary details included? Are the major “points” of the document brought out in the abstract?

    Accuracy refers to the extent to which the abstract correctly represents the original text. Ask the question: could there be any misunderstandings in reading the abstract?

    Readability is how clearly, concisely, and precisely you have written the abstract. Ask the questions: How well is it worded? Are the points described accurately, succinctly, and unambiguously?”

    Cohesion/coherence is focused on how well the ideas presented in the abstract are linked together. Ask the question: does it read well?

4. The Introduction (Section 1)

     Research Question and Aim: begin with your RQ and Aim, and why you think the work is interesting or

    relevant to the real world (with examples). Also include what you hoped to achieve when you started the


     Theory Review: This will be used to tell a story that generates interest in the reader for the field of your

    research and link to the practical investigation to follow. It will draw on your library or internet research and

    will be referenced. You should be aiming to reproduce, interpret, explain and compare Physics concepts,

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    theories and principles that directly relate to your project and contain no irrelevant or unnecessary details.

    In other words don‟t waffle on; every irrelevant sentence is a step backwards. Your aim is to show

    understanding of the physics involved and how it directly relates to and supports your project‟s research

    question and aim. In the earlier notes it was suggested you consider:

     Why your research topic has been chosen by you

     What do we know already about this issue (physics theory in detail)

     Were there earlier ideas that have been overturned

     How is it measured

    Note: if, at your school, you have done this section as an Extended Response Task (ERT), a brief summary

    of your findings would be appropriate here.

Hypothesis: state your clearly formulated and testable hypothesis, as well as explanation of your idea: “It

    was hypothesised that the….”.

     Justification: you will need to justify your hypothesis by referring to relevant physics principles from your

    research so far. This is where students first get into real trouble. While much of your report needs to seem

    impartial, you really need to write this more in a persuasive or argumentative style. You should be trying to

    persuade (or present an argument to) the reader that your hypothesis is logically supported by physics

    theory with links made between underlying concepts and you should aim at convincing the reader of your

    point of view.

    It is also appropriate to comment on the validity of the theory, formulas and ideas you have relied on. Were

    the sources reliable; is it well-settled physics or is it leading-edge theory that is still open to some dispute; is

    it really relevant to your work (show that it is directly applicable and not just related to something similar).;

    are you using the correct formulas (show that you are). Students often think if the terms or symbols used in

    the theory are the same as those from their own work it must be relevant. Be careful.

Planning & Preliminary trials:

     Introduction: What values you chose to try for your manipulated variable/s (eg masses of 0.1 kg to 0.8


     Method: What you did; and diagrams or photos as necessary.

     Results: Presented in appropriate form (tables, graph etc).

     Discussion: Could measurable results be obtained? Could you collect sufficient data? You are not

    expected to make a conclusion about the relationships between variables as outlined in the Aim, Research

    Question and Hypothesis. This is a discussion about the experimental design.

     Conclusion: How the original plan is to be modified in light of the pilot study.

    Note: the next Section (Section 2) is the Method. At a university level there may be another Section in between

    called “Review of the Literature”. You would not need this.

5. Method (Section 2)

    Describe in detail the method you used to collect your data and organize your observations. Your report should be detailed enough for anyone to be able to repeat your experiment by just reading the paper, so keep this fact in mind when you write it. In other words, it has to be „Replicable‟, meaning that someone else could

    repeat the experiment by following your method. It's always a good idea to include detailed photographs or clearly-labelled drawings of any device you made to carry out your research. You can also include how raw data is to be treated, that is, what formulae are applied.

6. Results and Analysis (Section 3)

    Results: The collected results should be displayed in forms that are appropriate to your data; eg tables, graphs, photos. No doubt you have learnt how to present graphs and tables so they won‟t be dealt with again here. The

    key is that the results presented should be chosen with discrimination; that is, don‟t include mistakes or data

    unrelated to your hypothesis (eg air pressure, colour of the wires, brand of meter…).

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