ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints
UQ standard is 12 point Times New Roman or Arial
1.5 lines spacing
Margins for marking
NO lines/borders and ‘fancy stuff’ etc
Preferably UQ Gatton Harvard style
http://www.library.uq.edu.au/filething/files/get/referencing/HarvardGatton.pdf but consistency
is the main thing
Download Endnote for FREE from the UQ Library website and learn to use it…never lose a
In text – oldest to most recent. In reference list – alphabetical order
Currency – watch out for old references, especially books, as journals much more up-to-date
and research sometimes ‘moves quickly’
All of your writing has to cite published authors and preferably from quality sources such as
peer-reviewed Scientific Journal articles, published books, Government sources etc. If you
can’t find an Author and a Date, it’s probably not a good quality source. You will lose marks
for using non-reputable web sources so it is better to avoid them.
Reference every fact. Even if you think it is common sense, or obvious, you need to find a
Do not just reference at the end of a paragraph and expect that covers all sentences within it.
You need a reference for every fact.
Do not over-rely on single sources. If you have only one or two references for a particular
topic you are not presenting a balanced view and will lose marks. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
Once you have found one reference/journal article that says something, don’t just leave it at
that. You must read and include a wide range of research to understand the full picture. It’s
usually multiple factors that have influence, eg. cows will cease eating and instead will rest
and ruminate approx 1.5 hrs after grazing on oats in the morning because of; increased external
temperature, and thus desire for shade, and need to drink after eating roughage, and rumeno-
reticular fill, and creation of internal metabolic heat due to digestion, and dairy management
practices that may move them to another paddock, and, etc… There may be many authors who
have studied many different aspects of the same behaviour and found these multiple factors all
contribute…and if you research and read a lot not only will you understand this and include
lots of information and write a better report, but then you have LOTS of references! (at least
15-20 Scientific Journal articles for 2 nd year, and at least 20-30 for 3 rd year).
The Basics – Structure and Flow of Writing and Scientific Style
Paragraphs should go from Broad to Fine Focus w last sentence introducing the next topic which
then begins the next Paragraph
Overall the whole report should be structured like this with Introduction as the broad focus and the
discussion as the analysis/fine focus
1 subject per sentence. Sentences should be approx. 30 words. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
There – Place. Their – Ownership. They’re – Doing. Don’t just rely on Spellcheck.
Scientific Names of Animals. Genus and Species. In Italics, eg; Felis catus, not just ‘cat’ or ‘dog’
etc. After you have used it the first time you can use eg; F. catus
Check, read and make sure you have actually addressed the Assessment Criteria/Assignment
Questions in your report.
Introduction – What Science already Knows/What has ‘already happened’/Why ‘your study’ is
o A brief ‘Literature review’ of the subject/s you will study ie; what the current state of
knowledge is and expected observations, with References to what published studies have
o Lead into aim of ‘your study’ towards the end of the Introduction before getting into the
methods section. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Keep introduction relevant to what your study, results and discussion will say eg; If your
report was about the domestication of the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), you can talk
about domestication of animals, or even better – poultry, very briefly to start…, but move
into focus on chickens specifically, what is known about chickens, what isn’t known about
perhaps ‘your’ chickens and thus why is ‘your study’ being done to find out if ‘your
chickens do what other chickens do or not do’?
Methods – What Was Done and How
o The idea is that methods should be ‘Replicable’, meaning someone else can (more-or-less)
follow how it was done, check the sources that you utilised and perform the same
experiment. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Do not write ‘the day we looked at the cows/horse/dogs etc’. Just use ‘impersonal’
language such as eg; ‘…observations were made at half-hour intervals using scan sampling
as per Smith and Jones 1997 etc…’.
o Methods should be: What; study animals> species, age, sex, wild/domestic etc; Where;
Study site (latitude, longitude, geographic area, climate, environment etc); When;
conditions at time of study, times, season, etc, overall a brief geographical description of
study site and subjects. How the study was done; referenced to other studies using the same
methods eg; scan sampling etc and any special equipment used to collect data such as
cameras to record behaviour, or pedometers to measure km’s covered, or statistical
computer programs used to calculate results etc. Not every individual pen, pencils and
piece of paper etc. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Methodological problems or ‘confounding factors’ are generally in the Methods section,
but can be mentioned in the discussion.
Results – What Happened
o Shows important or ‘significant’ figures and trends with general statements of results of
the statistics ie; maximums, minimums, mean/average etc…using manipulated data. This
means the ‘raw data’ from your field notes has been put through some sort of mathematical
process, whether that is total counts, percentages, calculation of the mean and standard
deviation, etc. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Tables; title above. Figures/Graphs; title below. Also titles on the graphs and axes of the
o Graphs – Don’t just put graphs in and not explain them. They must be presented/explained
for the reader in the text of the Results section as well stating minimum and maximum
results, averages, highs and lows etc. Explanatory text before figure/graph.
o Don’t only have tables/graphs in the results section, also provide a written description of
the results. (See the example below)
During observation 1 twenty cows were observed ruminating (Figure 1.1) with five and ten cows observed
ruminating in observations 2 and 3 respectively.
Figure 1.1 Number of cows observed ruminating in each observation
o Statistical terminology is very specific, if you have not done the statistical tests to prove if
something is ‘significant’ try not to use complex terms such as; correlated, inverse, direct,
proportional, significant etc, unless you really know what they mean. Just state max and
min etc and then relate to other studies in your discussion. You can even state in your
methods that no more than basic analysis was done. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Think about What you are trying to observe or are going to write about. Look at the
assessment criteria and graph the correct data against each other to actually get some
‘significant’ results. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Don’t be scared to Play with Excel! As long as you have saved the actual raw data you can
create and delete graphs as many times as you like. Learn to take out grey background,
lines, put in titles, change font size to fit, size all graphs evenly etc.
o Should only be in Black and White; so make sure lines/bars etc are different patterns so
can be read easily .
o Graphs, Figures and Tables must be relatively easy to interpret visually.
o Results should be a presentation of the ‘significant’ or important data and information form
the experiment in a numerical and written form. It is not an explanatory or interpretive
analysis of why things ‘did or didn’t happen’.
Discussion – WHY it happened:
o Compare and Contrast = relate the findings of your study to published literature.
o It doesn’t matter if yours is the same or different, but justify.
o State whether ‘your’ study is or isn’t consistent with the relevant research of published
studies. Don’t assume, guess, maybe, could have, probably etc…state Yes or No on how
your study related to other research you have read. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.
o Develop the confidence to do this by widening your Research and reading,
o Don’t contradict yourself!
o Don’t use anthropomorphic or emotive language and superlatives. The subjects of the
study are NOT > happy, sad, have ‘likes and dislikes’ etc. The results are NOT > hugely,
greatly, enormously, or slightly anything…they just are or aren’t similar to other studies.
This is Science remember!
o This is the bit where you get to use LOTS of REFERENCES!
Conclusion – wrap up the main findings and perhaps some future recommendations but don’t
introduce new topics or references.
To help with learning how to do all this just read journal articles so that you become familiar with the
style of writing etc. Find some on a subject/species that Really interests you (eg, dolphins, cats, horse
behaviour, etc) and downloading some and actually reading them in your own time. Not only will you
learn something fun about a subject that you like, but you will learn to critique the style and writing –
concentrate mostly on the Introduction, Discussion and writing style, don’t worry about trying to
understand all of the statistical analysis etc yet. ANIM1014 Scientific Writing and Behaviour Report Hints.