The ChE research report format is designed for complex experiments. The audience includes not only managers, but also technical specialists who may need to duplicate the work. This audience needs more information than that contained in the simple Methods section of the Laboratory Report, so here that one section is replaced by three: Theory, Apparatus, and Procedure.
Reminder: Write the bulk of your research report in the 3rd person. Also, use the past tense, except to express facts that are always true. See FAQs for more guidelines on technical writing.
Note: This format is designed to cover different experiments in courses taught by different instructors. Depending on the course, experiment, and instructor, the contents of each section will vary in depth, detail, and emphasis.
The research report has eleven sections:
1. Letter of Transmittal
The letter of transmittal introduces the reader to the report and includes acknowledgements normally not mentioned in the report itself. Your instructor may request that this letter include other material, such as information concerning the distribution of report copies, and the level of effort by team members. Read more on the letter of transmittal.
2. Front Matter
The front matter includes a title page, a table of contents, a list of tables, and a list of figures.
The abstract is a condensation of the subject matter. It gives a quantitative summary of your procedure, results, and conclusions. In the Research Report, the abstract gives numerical values for important variables and results. Read more on the abstract.
The introduction to the research report prepares readers by summarizing the following aspects of the project:
Purpose or Objective: What were you trying to achieve?
The introduction includes a clear statement of the problem or the question addressed by the research.
Justification: Why was this project undertaken?
Research is conducted in response to a need. The introduction explains that need and the significance of the report’s findings.
History: What work has been done in the past that relates to this project?
The introduction gives context to the research by citing previous work in the field. That previous work may include theories, definitions, procedures, results, and conclusions. All references are cited.
Scope and Limitations: How do you define and justify the scope?
Strong introductions shape or qualify their readers’ expectations by explaining what the research covers, and what it does not cover. The discussion of the scope may overlap with that of the history, so that readers can understand how this work builds on or challenges other research.
Overview: What is your approach to the problem?
Introductions often conclude with a brief outline of the approach.
The theory section answers the questions: What are the theoretical foundations of the experiment? What trends did you expect from the experiment based on that theory?
This section sets out the theory supporting the experiment and discusses the expected trends based on previous work, which is correctly cited. It prepares readers for the Results section below by showing the equations used to analyze the results. This section includes derivations of important theory. Lengthy derivations by the author(s) go in the appendix, but the results of those derivations are given here.
The apparatus section answers the questions: What equipment/materials/instruments were used? Did the authors make modifications or contribute any new designs? If so, what were they?
This section should enable another researcher to reconstruct the experimental apparatus. The text briefly describes the apparatus, identifies the important details of that apparatus, and shows how the apparatus was set up. The text refers to drawings or schematics which include critical dimensions. Modifications in both apparatus and setup are noted.
The procedure section answers the questions: What tests were run? How were data collected? What were the critical or difficult procedures?
This section describes the experimental procedure in sufficient detail so that another researcher could duplicate the experiment. The text focuses on the most critical or difficult steps. Detailed procedures, if needed, are enumerated and placed in the appendix.
The results section answers the questions: What data were collected? How were the data analyzed? What conclusions were drawn from the analysis?
The results section is a discussion that links your data analysis to your conclusions. It develops conclusions with reference to the figures, graphs, and tables of your analysis. This section should be organized with the most significant results first, followed by less important results. Relevant errors in measurement are also discussed.
Note that the depth and detail of this section will vary according to your experiment and your instructor’s preferences.
The conclusions and recommendations section answers the questions: What were the most important conclusions developed from in the Results? What recommendations do you give, based on those conclusions?
The results section has already stated the conclusions, but they are buried in the discussion. This final section re-presents them so they are accessible to readers.
The recommendations give an outline of actions that should be taken as a result of the conclusions. These recommendations should be a direct result of the experimental work. They should also be supported by the Resultsdiscussion. This section does not introduce new material.
The appendices of the Research Report generally include the following items:
- · Figures and graphs not discussed in the body of the report. These are presented in the sequence in which they are mentioned in the report, but they should be numbered according to their actual order in the report.
- · Tabular results. These should also be presented in sequence.
- · Lengthy theoretical arguments, if any
- · Appropriate calibration curves if any
- · Raw data in tabular form
- · Sample calculations, with units
- · A discussion of safety considerations, including hazards associated with the experiment.
- · Other assignments specified by your instructor.
Your text should cite all sources used. Use APA documentation style through NoodleBiB (UT Library). For example, you may cite a source like this in the text (Henry, 1998). The reference would look like this:
Henry, J. (1998, Summer). Liquid-Liquid Extraction. Lab Handout ChE 264, The University of Texas at Austin.
Research Reports should contain 3000-5000 words of text, from the “Introduction” through the “Conclusions/Recommendations.” The number of pages will vary, depending on how many figures and tables you include. The final version of Research Reports should be single-spaced, but your instructor may want to see drafts double-spaced.
Template for Research Report: Download
Follow the Research Report template in preparing your assignment. Instructions are in square brackets [like this]. If you cut-and-paste your writing onto a template, it helps if you (1) save a copy of your work as “text only” and (2) transfer the “text only” version to the template. That way, you avoid importing new formatting.
Sample Research Report: Download