Elements of a Successful Project

1. Project Journal

As you conduct your experiment, record the results as they are produced. It might be hard to remember some observations and data after experimentation. Take careful notes during data collection. They may be a little ‘messy’ but try to write every detail of data and observations. Data tables are also helpful .This will help you to organize your data when writing your research paper. Good notes remember everything. So your notes will help you to communicate better with the judges during your presentation. Make sure you date each entry.

2. Research Paper

The students should prepare a research paper and it should be available along with the project journal and other necessary tools to present your project on their display table. A good research paper has the following sections;

  1. Cover Page
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Abstract
  4. Introduction
  5. Materials and Methods
  6. Results
  7. Conclusion
  8. Discussion
  9. Acknowledgments
  10. References / Bibliography
a. Cover Page

This page includes title of the project and name of the researcher.

b. Table of Contents

The second page of your report is the table of contents. It should contain a list of everything in the report that follows the contents page, as shown below.

c. Abstract

The abstract is a brief overview of the project. It should not be more than 1 page and should include the project title, a statement of the purpose, a hypothesis, a brief description of the procedure, and the results. A copy of the abstract must be submitted to the I-SWEEEP officials during registration. See abstract form. Also, it is a good idea to have copies available for judges at your display. This gives judges something to refer to when making final decisions.

d. Introduction

The introduction is a statement of your purpose, along with background information that led you to make this study. It should contain a brief statement of your hypothesis based on your research. In other words, it should state what information or knowledge you had that led you to hypothesize the answer to the project’s problem question. Make references to information or experiences that led you to choose the project’s purpose.

e. Materials and Methods

You should describe all details of your procedures that you used to collect data, and make observations. Procedures should include a list of the materials used and the amount of each and the procedural steps are in order. Your written methods should be detailed enough so that someone would be able to repeat the experiment from the information in you paper. You can also include detailed photographs or drawings.

f. Results

It should include all measurements and observations that you took during each experiment and analysis of collected data. Graphs, tables, and charts created from your data should be labeled. If there is a large amount of data, you may choose to put most of it in an appendix, which can be placed in a separate binder or notebook. If you do separate the material, a summary of the data should be placed in the data section of the report.

g. Discussion

In this section you will discuss what your data shows; it is not the conclusion. You should compare your results with published data, commonly held beliefs, and/or expected results. Your discussion should include possible errors. Also, discuss what you would do differently to improve this project in the future and what other experiments should be conducted?

h. Conclusion

The conclusion summarizes, in about one page or less, what you discovered based on your experimental results. The conclusion states the hypothesis and indicates whether the data supports it. The conclusion can also include a brief description of plans for exploring ideas for future experiments. Also, it contains practical applications of the project.

i. Acknowledgments

Even though technically your project is to be your work alone, it is OK to have some help. The acknowledgment is not a list of names, but a short paragraph stating the names of the people and institutions and how they helped you.

j. References / Bibliography

A bibliography is a listing of the resources and references used during the research of your project. It should include information about the magazines and books you used. That information is organized so that interested readers could seek out and find the books and articles you refer to.

In the case of a book, you must supply the title of the book, its author, publishing company, the city where the publishing company is located, and the date the book was published.

For a magazine article you must supply the title of the article, the author, the magazine it appeared in, the date of the magazine issue, the volume of the magazine, and the pages the article appeared on. The followings are sample references.

Example for an article:

Johnson, Peter H. “Wired For Warmth,” (electic soil warmers – plant propagators), Rodale’s Organic Gardening, Jan. 1987, vol. 34, 68

Example for a book:

Math, Irwin. Wires & Watts, New York, Scribner, 1981

Example for an encyclopedia:

“Gyroscopic Properties,” The World Book Encyclopedia, 1988, vol. 8, 477

Example for an online website:

Planning for College and Academic Planning. The College Board. 7 June 2000, http://www.collegeboard.org/features/parentgd/html/academic.html