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BOT 440/540 Field Methods in Vegetation Science



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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 format.

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 address).

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