Writing a Quality Paper
All Chicago Public Science Fair papers need to use the APA (American Psychological Association) format. For assistance, use The Owl for formatting tips.
- Your abstract should be a short summary of your experiment. It should be three paragraphs long and discuss the purpose, procedure, and conclusion of your project.
- Safety Sheet
- This part has a specific format which will be provided by your advisor.
- Title Page
- Come up with an impressive way to display your topic.
- Table of Contents
- Purpose and Hypothesis
- In discussing the purpose and hypothesis, you must clearly describe why you conducted the experiment and what prediction you made. It is helpful also to state why you made that prediction.
- Review of Literature
- Here you are summarizing the research you have done. Write about research that is relevant to your topic. This is one of the most important sections of your report. Be sure to cite sources in this section, stating where you got your information from. (See our guide on Choosing Sources)
- Just a list of the materials needed for experimentation. If necessary, make a note of dangerous items.
- Include a step by step list of the procedure you followed in your experiment. Write this section so that someone who doesn't know anything about your project can follow what you did. Explain as though your audience is intelligent, but uninformed. Using diagrams along with your explanation of the procedure is a good idea.
- In your report, you must list the results of your experiment. Results that are numerical should be listed in a table or a graph. Remember that a graph looks neater, and it is easier to see patterns in a graph than in a table or list of numbers (see our guide on Graphing in Excel ). Make sure that all tables, graphs, and diagrams are labelled appropriately.
- What did you find out by doing your experiment? Does this result agree with your hypothesis? (It's okay if it doesn't!) Talk about your experiment here, but also what kind of broad scientific conclusions can be made. An error analysis discussing what kind of sources of error affected your experiment must be done here.
- Reference List
- This is also called the bibliography or the works cited page. Include all the sources you used in your report in this section, as well as material you read which helped you understand your topic. (See our guide on Writing a reference)
By including all the necessary sections in your paper, you make sure that you get the highest score possible. Nearly a third of the points awarded in the science fair come from the score on the paper; this means that every successful science fair project had a well-written report.
Another important thing to consider is that your paper needs to be well-written in addition to having all the necessary components. Grammar doesn't need to be perfect, but everything should be spelled correctly, and there shouldn't be any obvious scientific inaccuracies. Write your paper early and spend some time proofreading it. Also make sure that others read your paper so that they can help check it with you. Writing a paper takes time, and rushing through it will probably end with poor results.
Check the Science Buddies website to see some of the technical aspects of writing a science paper. (font, size, pictures, etc)
If you include all the necessary parts of your science fair report and take your time writing and proofreading it, you will succeed.