ENG 101, Section 013

Ms. Vilhotti

September 6, 2007


Project 1: Formal Observation Report



Purpose: A formal observation report is a way for scientists to share results of their research with other scientists in an organized form.


Due Dates: - Abstract due for approval on Tuesday, September 11th: email and hard copy

- Draft due on Friday, September 14th: email and hard copy

- Final draft due on Friday, September 21st: email and hard copy



- To report on

(Level 1) a single observation of a natural object or phenomenon


(Level 2) multiple observations of a natural object or phenomenon over a set period of time


(Level 3) two objects interacting with each other


- To formulate a hypothesis/hypotheses to explain the results of your observation.


- To provide data that other scientific researchers could use in exploring similar phenomena.


Audience: Scientists in the same field of research


Length: 4-5 pages; minimum 1,000 words


Preparing for the Observation:

1.       Re-read (K & S pp. 14-41, paying special attention to objective language, the three types of observation, and the specific features of a formal observation report).

2.       Decide on Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. Note: your choice of level will not affect your grade in any way.

3.       Brainstorm about possible objects. A good way to brainstorm is to walk around outside and notice things before you chose a final object(s).

4.       If you want to observe a phenomenon or object over a set period of time, you may want to choose an object that will not move or change significantly so that you can come back and observe it later.


Conducting the Observation:

1.       Observe and take plenty of notes. Unless you plan to observe an object at different points in the day or different points over several days, you should get all the data you need during your first observation.

2.       Make sure to collect enough information to successfully provide static, dynamic and systemic descriptions of the object(s)

3.       Do not interfere or interact with the object or phenomenon.


Writing the Observation Report:

The report must include all of the following sections:


Title: What object and issue are under study?

Abstract: What type of study, object, issue, method, results?

Introduction: What are you studying and why?

Method: What did you do?

Results: What did you observe? (This refers to the static, dynamic, and systemic observation write-up)

Discussion: What do the results mean? What is a logical hypothesis that may explain the results?

Conclusion: What should be done next to further the academic discussion you have



Notes on Content:

         Each section should have a subheading (refer to the 7 categories above).

         The static, dynamic, and systemic observations will serve as the basis for the Results section.

         No outside sources are required to explain your observations or generate your hypothesis. In generating your hypothesis, you should feel free to leave questions open-ended and to speculate. However, you should be careful to speculate only insofar as you can support your speculations with evidence from your observations. If you do decide to use outside sources for ideas, you must cite them according to the Council of Biology Editors style guide.

         Your report must not simply present your observations. You will ultimately draw a conclusion about the object or phenomenon you have studied. Since you are not doing outside research to further explore the hypothesis, the Discussion section must explain how your observations led you to your hypothesis. Similarly, your Conclusion section will suggest kinds of research (including possible experiments), which could further test your hypothesis.


Notes on Language:

         I expect you to apply what you have learned from class activities and assignments. This means that you must write as objectively as possible and use the scientific language conventions.

         You may want to review K&S (16-21) and Linton et al.s section on language.



I will evaluate the formal observation report based on how well you have met the criteria (which we will collaboratively specify and establish in class) and how well you apply the lessons we have worked on in class assignments.

       You must write using objective language.

       You must present a logical hypothesis and suggestions for further study. Your hypothesis and suggestions are very important because a presentation of your observations is not enough to make a successful report.

       Your report will also need to meet the standard expectations of a good academic writing.

       You must have a clearly established and thoroughly developed focus.

       The descriptions and discussions must be detailed, clear, logical, and thorough.

       Finally, your writing itself must be stylistically well written and grammatically correct.