Writing an Investigative Report

Investigative reports form a large part of the physical science curriculum for Grades 10 to 12. Each year normally has a project like this, which constitutes a large percentage of your SBA (School Based Assessment).

Checklist for writing the report of a physical science practical

This list should be read in conjunction with what your teacher has told you. Practical reports are not examined at national level, and therefore different provinces and regions have varying layouts for how they want your practical report to be written. However, this checklist will cover most of what is required of you. We suggest you copy and modify it to match the layout your teacher has given, then tick the items off as you cover them in your report. Click here to download a checklist.

No. Description
1 Layout report under headings as required by teacher.

(e.g. Aim, Equipment and Materials Used, Method, Results and Calculations, Discussion, Conclusion)

2 State the Aim, Hypothesis and/or Investigative question.

o   investigative question: question to be answered by doing the practical.

o   hypothesis: statement of what you think will happen, but written as if it is fact.

3 List all equipment /chemicals used. (include details, e.g. name, size, concentration etc.).
4 Write method as a list of numbered instructions.

(e.g. “3. Using a 25,0 cm3 pipette, add 25,0 cm3 of 1,00 mol.dm3 HCl to a 250 cm3 volumetric flask”; not “• Then we put 25,0 cm3 of HCl into the flask.”

5 State which variables must be kept constant.
6 Include diagrams if appropriate.
7 State what reading/s must be taken.
8 State how to determine when the experiment has ended (and started if appropriate).

(e.g. “5. Release the pendulum bob. Start the stopwatch when the bob passes the lowest point, count 10 full swings, and stop the stopwatch as the bob passes the lowest point after its 10th swing.”)

9 Include which steps must be repeated, and how often, or with which values.

(e.g. “7. Repeat Steps 3 to 6 three times.” or “7. Repeat Steps 3 to 6 using the voltages given in the Results Table.”)

10 Record all raw data.

(anything you measured should be recorded in the units in which it was measured, e.g. record 1 minute 15 seconds as “1:15” not as “75s”, even if you are going to use it in units of “s” in your calculations)

11 Show at least one calculation of each type in full (include all steps and formulae as expected during tests and exams).
12 Check tables and graphs are complete (e.g. with correct headings, units, labels, etc.).
13 Identify “outliers” in your results; suggest reason if possible.
14 Include problems identified, suggest improvements.
15 Address the Aim, Hypothesis and/or Investigative Question stated initially.
16 Read marking rubric (if available), and optimise report based on the info in it.
17 Check all instructions given in the practical instruction handout were followed.

Click here to contact your nearest Master Science centre should you like more physical science assistance.