Final Project's Format

I expect your final project's report to look more or less like a scientific paper. Here is an example of a well-formatted paper. You don't need to understand the content of this paper, but have a look at the general format.

To make formatting easier and consistent, many scientists use LaTeX. You can use the template provided by the American Physical Society. There are online tools for writing in LaTeX. Overleaf is the one I use.

Your report should not be more than 4 pages long. That's generally not a requirement for a good scientific paper. It has more to do with my patience and time. Given the complexity of your projects, that should give you enough space to say everything you need to say.

Your report needs to have the following sections:

  1. Abstract: 3-5 sentences in which you give a very short summary of your work. Include the final results of your analysis in this section. Most people only read the abstract. Make sure you send the most essential results of your study across in as few sentences as you can.
  2. Introduction: In a couple of paragraphs, explain why your study is important. What are the unanswered questions that you are trying to address, and what effect will those answers have on other people's works or lives, or on the efficiency of a machine, or on the environment.
  3. Method: Here you describe the methods you have used to carry out your study. Include a diagram of the physical object you are studying, or a picture that makes understanding the concepts behind your work easier. If you have used a certain numerical method, give a general description about the method, why this is the correct method to solve the problem in front of you, and mention any changes you made to the standard useage of the method to make it useful for you. Do not copy-paste big chunks of code in your report. You can include your code as a supplement (an attachment to the paper), and refer to it in the main text.
  4. Results: Talk about your results. Show them in tables or in graphs.
  5. Discussion: Discuss your results. Talk about how they answer the questions you said you are going to answer at the beginning. Talk about the consequences and the significance of your results. Also talk about what is missing from your analysis. What do you think can be done to improve the results.
  6. Summary: Now that your reader has read the entire report, give them a summary what you think they must have learned from reading your report. Repeat the most important results. Repeat the most important part of your discussion of the result.
  7. Bibliography: List all the sources you have used to write the report.

All of your figures should have numbers and a short description written under them. The graphs should have clearly labelled axes. Each axis needs a label as well as units. You can also non-dimensionalize the axis. For example if you want to show a length \( x \) on an axis that is between \( 0 \) and \( L \), you can divide all of your lengths by \( L \). Then your axis goes from \( 0 \) to \( 1 \), and the title of your axis would be \( x / L \). Fig 4. in the paper above is a good demonstration of this. The horizontal axis represents a volume \( V \) as a fraction of \( V_0 \). The description below the graph specifies what the axes are, and what the plot generally means. Many people only read your abstract, look at your pictures, and read the description under your pictures. The descriptions under figures should be as independent from the text as possible. It is okay to repeat the text a bit under a figure, but do not write more than 4-5 sentences there.