You communicate the results of your exercises and projects to me
in a report.
Writing your results and interpretations in a report helps to solidify
your understanding and to convey that understanding to me. Choosing
the best structure for your report is part of this process. Although
the choice of structure is entirely up to you, here are some guidelines:
- A report that consists of a numbered list of answers is often
very effective when the assignment asks for responses to individual
questions. The Leaf Lengths exercise is a good example.
- For assignments that ask you to integrate results and interpretations,
a numbered list of short, separate answers would actually hinder
understanding and communication. The Measuring Stand Basal Area
project, for example, asks you to evaluate the performance of two
techniques. A report structure with an extended narrative is probably
the best way to pull the information together.
- For assignments in which you develop your own methods, the structure
of a scientific article (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion)
can be effective.
Required text format for reports
Each assignment states what should be included in the report. All
reports should have no less than 1" margins,
and use a 12-point font. Number the pages, and don't forget the page
limits! I will return, unread, reports that exceed the page limit.
(Page limits are important not just as a way to control the time it
takes to grade. Almost every job will involve writing short reports,
and students tell me that practicing now to condense your ideas to
fit within page limits pays off later.)
Submitting your reports
- Submit your reports as a word processing file attached
to an e-mail.
- When there are substantial calculations, also attach a spreadsheet
showing the calculations. The spreadsheet doesn't have to be fancy,
but it should be understandable. See Using
Spreadsheets for tips and guidelines.
- If you have access to a digital camera, you should include a photograph
of your study area in your project reports. Photographs can get
very big, making upload times very tedious for you if you have a
slow connection. Sending the photograph in JPEG format is an excellent
way to preserve high image quality in a small file size. Avoid sending
photographs that are larger than 1 MB in size.
- In a few places an assignment calls for hand-written diagrams.
Either scan the diagram and send the image as an e-mail attachment
or send the paper version via US mail. My mailing address is Mark
Wilson, Cordley 2082, Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University,
Corvallis, OR 97331-2902.
- Sometimes it is more reliable to send figures separately from the text because the figures are easier to read when they are not embedded in a Word document. For example, compressed TIFF files definitely do not show up in Word documents on my computer.
A special request
Your reports will be easier for me to read and less ambiguous if you use true superscripts and true multiplication signs. For hints and instructions, see the Resources page.
Supported file formats
A diversity of software and hardware is usually healthy, but it can
be burdensome when trying to exchange files. I refuse to follow the
single-vendor model, but I am limiting the types of formats I can
accept. If your program is not on this list, either (a) use a computer
that has acceptable software or (b) convert your file into an acceptable
The acceptable formats:
- Word processing: Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Open Office
- Spreadsheets: Excel, Quattro Pro, Open Office
Microsoft Works is a problem. If you live further than 50 miles from the nearest
acceptable software and thus must use Works, contact me very
soon so you can start practicing the conversion steps.
Important guidelines for e-mailing reports
- Label the report. Each report should start with your name,
date, name of assignment, and the file name of any associated spreadsheet.
- Have an informative subject line. The e-mail conveying
the report should have as its subject "Report: " and the
first few words of the assignment title. For example, the subject line
for submitting the first report would be "Report: Leaf Lengths."
- Use informative document and spreadsheet names. Name your
attached report and any accompanying spreadsheet with the first
few words of the assignment title. For example, the report for the first
assignment could be"Leaf Lengths.doc." You can include
your name or the date in the file name, if you are used to that style, but there is no need to.
- Sign your message. Include your name at the end of the
e-mail message (sometimes it is hard to tell the name from the e-mail