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Writing for maths and sciences

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

Useful links for writing in maths and sciences

Writing a lab report

Lab reports are required for a range of scientific subject disciplines from Chemistry to Psychology. They report on an experiment that you have carried out, either on your own or with others. Lab reports always follow a formal structure, and are written in a concise descriptive style that focuses on accuracy and avoiding ambiguity.


1. Introduction: explain what the experiment is, and why it is being conducted (for instance, if you are testing a hypothesis, say what that hypothesis is).

2. Methods: describe the methods and materials used.

3. Results: state your results, including graphical representations (e.g. tables or graphs) if appropriate for effective, clear communication.

4. Discussion: explain the significance of the results, with regard to the reasons for doing the experiment that you've described in your introduction. You might also include any problems or challenges you encountered which might have had an impact on the results.

5. Conclusion: summarise your key findings.

Writing a clinical case report

Clinical reports may be required when students are undertaking clinical placements as part of their course. You will usually be provided with a template that indicates what you need to include. This might include presentation, medical history, and any treatment.

There are some principles that you should consider when writing this type of report:

- Client confidentiality is crucial. Make sure there is nothing in your report that could identify them.

- You are aiming to describe the details of the meeting as accurately as possible, but you may not be expected to go into great depth. It may be helpful to consider what someone else might need to know if they were the person to see the client next.

- Avoid any emotive or subjective language, even if the meeting itself was emotional. If you are asked to write a reflective account you might describe the emotions involved, but you would still try to use objective language where possible.

- Have a system for making notes. It may be difficult to write in whole sentences but if you use abbreviations or symbols, you must be sure that you will remember what they mean later.

- If the meeting is recorded, make sure you have permission from the client, and that the recording is stored or destroyed in accordance with data protection guidelines.