The following are some general descriptions of- and tips on different genres within science communication. Remember that these are just the basic instructions, so always check your assignment description in case of deviations from these instructions.
Reports are often used to describe a lab experiment (lab report) or a field project (field report). Regardless of the type of report: the aim of a report is to communicate the work you have done and what you have found.
Reports follow roughly the IMRaD format. That is, there will at least be an introduction, description of methods, presentation of results and a discussion. How much detail each of the IMRaD segments need, will vary with each assignment. For more information on the IMRaD format see here:
In a report...
- ...the materials and methods and the results are usually a large part of the report.
- …the abstract can sometimes, but not always, be absent.
- … the introduction can sometimes, but not always, be short.
- ...the discussion can sometimes, but not always, be short or limited to only be a conclusion.
These differences between different reports make it difficult to set one standard for all. Therefore, it is very important to read your assignment text properly to make sure you have understood what is expected in your report.
NB! Also keep in mind that some might use the term “report” synonymously with the term “assignment” even though the assignment itself might deviate from the report structure. So again: make sure that you read through your assignment text properly and ask your lecturer for clarification if you find anything confusing.
In a scientific essay you analyse a scientific problem or question by using earlier studies and to some extent your own ideas and opinions. The scientific essay deviates from the IMRaD structure by lacking a materials and methods and results section. It contains an introduction paragraph, a main body/discussion and a concluding paragraph. It is also important to have a strong title.
In the introduction you let the reader know what your scientific essay is going to be about. Here it is advantageous to develop a specific question you want to answer. The introduction is usually just one paragraph (unless your essay is long) and consists of three things:
- General statements: Sentences that introduce background information relevant to your essay. In a short essay there will typically be only one or two of these, but in longer essays they might make up for a whole paragraph. They should become more specific as you progress, until you reach your thesis statement.
- A thesis statement: What your essay is about/the question you want answered.
- An outline of the main ideas you want to discuss. This outline is sometimes included in the thesis statement, and does not have to be a sentence on its own.
The main body of the scientific essay consists of several paragraphs and discusses the idea or topic you have introduced in your introduction paragraph. Here you try to find an answer to the question in the introduction by using scientific literature, discuss arguments, connections and context, methods, data, what is unknown, different findings etc. The size of this section depends on your assignment. To ensure a good flow to your essay: make sure that your paragraphs are organized in a logical order and that the transitions between them are easy to follow. They should naturally lead towards your concluding paragraph.
This paragraph answers to your introduction paragraph. It includes a summary of the main points of your essay and final comments. In this summary you can also say something about what meaning your discoveries might for the society or future research.
A blogpost is a fun way to communicate about your work, or a project you have been doing, to the broader public. It is usually a relatively short and light text understandable for everybody where you can include photos or other figures. There are no strict rules to how to a blogpost related to science, but here are some general tips:
- Consider who your audience is. How you write and what you write will often depend on who is going to read your blog.
- Do not forget to introduce yourself. It would be natural to include some information about yourself in your first blogpost so your readers know a little about who you are.
- Emphasise readability. Blogs are supposed to be easy to read. Try to avoid overly complicated words and phrases.
- You can be personal. In blog posts you can include your own opinions, personal experiences and reflections. Are you writing about a field trip and found the field work exciting, then nature beautiful, but the weather annoying? You can write that!
- Include pictures, drawing etc. If you have taken photos from your lab work or have drawings related to your blog post - include them.
- Limit the use of references. If you refer to other people’s works you should of course provide references. However, in a blog post it might be beneficial to limit the use of references to improve readability. An alternative is to use footnotes, which are a bit easier to hide among the text without interrupting the flow.
For some examples on different blog posts from students at BIO have a look at this website: https://biopraksis.w.uib.no/