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Waffling in a scientific report. What is it and how to get rid of it? Watch

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    Writing the beginning of a report for a year (ish) long project.

    Right now I'm at a stage where I just need to write an intro (no abstract)/background physics/have a plan for what to do next.

    I finished the writing and showed it to my supervisor, but it was very much disliked due to the amount of "waffling" in it.

    I thought it would have been good because I talked about the background of the field and transitioned into why I'm doing my project.

    I would have thought one persons "waffling" was another persons "adding details, context etc" but it seems I'm mistaken.

    What is waffling and how would you get rid of it to make the perfect scientific report?


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    It's always difficult at first, as it's never fun having to critique your own work, and remove bits that you must have thought were relevant, or you wouldn't have written them in the first place.

    I find it helps to

    a) For each section, make a list of things that definitely need to be in there, check the study resources available to you, see if they've given you guidelines and a mark scheme which should both help here. E.g. Method: diagram with caption; key pieces of apparatus, such as He-Ne laser labelled; circuit diagram if relevant; then a few lines detailing key techniques, but not stuff like "the radioactive sample was moved into the chamber using tongs and gloves" - more like "the count was reset after each minute and recorded 5 times".

    b) Set yourself reasonable limits and then trim your report down to stick to them i.e: half a page for into and theory, half for method including diagrams, 150 word abstract etc. then you can focus on trimming what doesn't need to be there until you get to the point where you're removing key information.

    c) get a friend to help - I nearly always get a friend to look, as they won't be sentimental about certain lines, they'll see more clearly what is unnecessary

    Hope this helps and good luck
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    (Original post by Dmon1Unlimited)
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    Is this hand written or in a type set? Such as LaTeX
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    (Original post by Phichi)
    Is this hand written or in a type set? Such as LaTeX
    Typed on Microsoft word. Although, I was planning to put it all in latex (assuming I can learn to use it) near my deadline to make it nice looking


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    (Original post by james153)
    It's always difficult at first, as it's never fun having to critique your own work, and remove bits that you must have thought were relevant, or you wouldn't have written them in the first place.

    I find it helps to

    a) For each section, make a list of things that definitely need to be in there, check the study resources available to you, see if they've given you guidelines and a mark scheme which should both help here. E.g. Method: diagram with caption; key pieces of apparatus, such as He-Ne laser labelled; circuit diagram if relevant; then a few lines detailing key techniques, but not stuff like "the radioactive sample was moved into the chamber using tongs and gloves" - more like "the count was reset after each minute and recorded 5 times".

    b) Set yourself reasonable limits and then trim your report down to stick to them i.e: half a page for into and theory, half for method including diagrams, 150 word abstract etc. then you can focus on trimming what doesn't need to be there until you get to the point where you're removing key information.

    c) get a friend to help - I nearly always get a friend to look, as they won't be sentimental about certain lines, they'll see more clearly what is unnecessary

    Hope this helps and good luck
    What's the difference between your tong quote and your reset quote. Both provide information to the reader. The second quote might be more re important but you need both for a full understanding

    I get the feeling a lot of my sentences would be like the former


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    The first quote would fall into the category of general scientific techniques - someone wanting to recreate your experiment would probably already know general safety procedures for handling radioactive samples, and if not, they could find a separate source for that. Your report should be a focus on what was specific to your experiment.

    You make the point that waffling can provide information to the reader - yes it can, but the point of a scientific report is that it's a concise summary of the details unique to that experiment, so extra information concerning say, how to adjust a laser, or how to work an oscilloscope should be omitted.

    Hope this helps, I know my first reports included lots of unnecessary information at first
 
 
 
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