Scientific report rubric

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Please see the lecture slides on writing scientific reports before you read this rubric and make a plan for your paper.

Structure and format

Your paper should have headings and subheadings with the following structure:

  • Title, student number, and word count
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Study 1
    • Method
    • Results
  • Study 2
* (Proposed) Method
* (Anticipated) Results
  • General discussion
  • References

It should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document (NOT a pdf) and should be 1.5 spaced Times New Roman or Arial font size 12 with one-inch margins all around. Please include page numbers at the bottom-center of your pages.

Assignment evaluation questions

In assessing submissions for the scientific report, the grader will ask themselves the following questions, answering each on the scale of:

0 = grossly incomplete/not addressed

1 = needs significant work

2 = minimally fulfills requirements

3 = good effort, but with room for improvement

4 = excellent and above expectations

A. Is the abstract an effective summary of the paper? The reader should come away with a strong impression of the research questions, general methods, and key findings. Very brief introductory and discussion information is also encouraged. A second read of the abstract after having completed reading the paper should reveal that the abstract accurately portrays the paper’s primary contents.

B. Are the central research question(s) and hypothes(e)s clearly stated and adequately contextualized in the Introduction? Your introduction should lead fairly quickly to describing one or more major questions that your paper deals with. The introduction should stand on its own as a miniature argument for why the research question is worth asking and should be written so that it becomes obvious why you have the hypothes(e)s you do. The reader should be able to quickly extract your stated research questions and hypotheses.

C. Does the Introduction make full use of relevant course concepts? You will have the Schober & Clark paper as a starting inspiration point for your paper, but you should be pulling in other concepts from the course as relevant in building up your introduction. Top papers will interweave multiple course concepts in building their argument for the research questions and hypotheses.

D. Do the method sections highlight the essential information required for replication? The methods should be written at a level such that the reader can imagine the basic set up and procedures of getting participants and collecting data. You will not be able to express every detail of the method, so choose just the essential information such that a smart reader could approximate the study just on the basis of your description. You are encouraged to point to external files as references; here we are thinking of the links to your stimuli and instructions documents. But that could include, for example, stimuli that you are proposing in your second study or something along those lines. For the proposed method in Study 2, you can rely on the common ground you built up with the reader in Study 1 when describing your incremental change. Some papers essentially write, “Study 2 used the same methods as Study 1 with one exception: …blablabla…”. So if that applies to you, please use it if you’d like to. You will need a very brief explanation of your incremental change in Study 2 right before you dive into its proposed methods.

E. Do the results sections give a straightforward reporting of the relevant outcomes? We will be looking for you to first report any data exclusions. Then we would like to see a high-level summary of the data corresponding to each hypothesis and/or measure. We are only using descriptive statistics in our course (e.g., means, medians, and ranges) so you can focus on results along those lines for each outcome measure (e.g., in Study 1: director speech length, accuracy, placement timing). Be sure to check that your outcome measures are mentioned with respect to a specific hypothesis in the introduction! It is good practice to provide a figure or table for each key result, but choose whatever seems right to you. This means that you could make up a figure or a table with your anticipated results from Study 2 to help your reader better understand what you expect. Keep discussion of the findings relatively minimal in these short sections, but you will need just enough discussion in Study 1 to transition to Study 2 and highlight why the change you propose is an interesting one.

F. Does the general discussion integrate and interpret the findings from both studies with course concepts in a sophisticated manner? The general discussion is your opportunity to showcase your understanding of course concepts in two ways: (1) arguing for what Study 2, itself, reveals to us about some aspect of communication beyond the original study and (2) interpreting what the joint findings of studies 1 and 2 would tell us about the broader ideas about communication that are touched on in this course. There is no one “right” structure for this section, but we propose you start with an extremely brief summary of the results highlights and end with a sentence or two on the limitations of one or both studies. Top papers will ensure that the introduction sets up the reader for the specific issues addressed in the general discussion. The general discussion, including the grader’s impression of the thoughtfulness of the Study 2 design, is the most important contributor to your grade on this paper—so concentrate significant effort on this portion.

G. Are the references complete and in APA format? Self explanatory, but see here if you’re not sure what APA references are.

H. Is the writing easy to follow, detailed (but concise), and persuasive? Top papers will showcase writing that has been carefully edited for typos. We welcome a variety of writing styles and voices, just be clear and persuasive and fulfill the structural requirements of the paper.

Note that it is up to YOU how to divide your (max) 4000 words between these different goals. However, the lecture slides on writing scientific reports have some tips on that issue.

Translation of questions to grades

Submissions that score “excellent and above expectations” across the board will receive a perfect grade (A; 100/100). Submissions that score “needs significant work” across the board will receive a (C-; 70/100). We expect most submissions to fall between these two results. This translation from evaluation questions to grades is done by the particular grader (Dr. Casillas, Jillyan, or Jingde) who is assigned to each individual paper.

Grossly incomplete submissions or submissions that do not sufficiently follow the outlined task will maximally receive a grade of C-; please contact your TA if completing the assignment becomes insurmountable for some reason. Grades of D and lower will be discussed and verified by the entire grading team.

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