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While the object of research is the discovery of new knowledge, effective communication of results to others is nearly as important as the discovery itself. This is recognised in the method used for assessing the honours research project as detailed in part A below. Part B sets out the requirements for the form of the report.


Reports must be submitted to the 4th Floor Office no later than Friday 4pm of week 12 of Second Semester.

Reports will not be accepted or will attract a marks penalty for:

  • Late submission (extensions of time will be given only for illness documented with an appropriate medical certificate, as is standard Faculty practice).

  • Exceeding 40 pages for the length of the report proper (including figures but excluding contents, research proposal, and appendices). Reports should be printed double-sided, with 2cm margins on all edges, and typeset in "standard" 12pt font on 14pt baselines (one and a half line spacing).

  • Lack of supervisor's endorsement as at (10) of part B below.

  • Failing to include a separate one-page summary of student achievements, written in first person. This should outline exactly what you did.


Details of the mini-seminars, to be given in week 13 of Second Semester (ie, after submission of your report), will be provided later.


Laboratory work should cease at the end of the non-teaching break in second semester. This gives you three weeks to devote to the report.


The following outlines the general method used in assessing the Honours dissertation and should be taken as a guide by both students and supervisors. Assessment is in three parts:

  • The research work (assessed by the supervisors; all nominated supervisors on the front of the report must submit a supervisor's mark; all supervisors must also act as report readers)

  • The report (graded and ranked by a panel of report readers, each of whom must read at least one third of the reports, not counting those of their own students)

  • The seminar, judged on content and presentation by a panel of markers

The mark for the 24 point Dissertation unit is computed from the weighted sum of the research mark (30%), the report mark (60%), and the seminar mark (10%).


Supervisors will assess the project work on the basis of:

  • Achievement of adequate understanding of the Physics involved.

  • General approach and performance in a laboratory situation.

  • Ability to recognise and solve problems as they arise.

  • Effectiveness in using the literature, conducting library and data base searches, etc.

  • Particular skills (workshop, electronics, computer programming etc.)

  • Application and determination to overcome difficulties.

  • Capacity to bring work to productive and effective conclusion within a specified time.

  • Overall level of achievement, given all the constraints on an Honours project.

  • Conciseness of presentation. This is an important component in modern scientific publications.

The outcome of the supervisor's assessment will be documented with detailed justifications for the recommended marks. These documents will form part of the evidence considered at the examiners meetings at the end of the year.


The report will be assessed by a panel on its merits as a report and as far as possible quite separately from the assessment of the project work. The report, as its name implies, should be written as a document reporting (to a funding or host authority perhaps or to a consulting firm which might have commissioned the study) on the complete period of the project; it should detail the progress made (and the failures), the positive (and negative) results and their significance, the conclusions and possible future directions. It is important to realise that a report can be an excellent one, even though the project did not achieve its aims. The bulk of the report should be aimed at the professional physicist, not the narrow specialist; any highly technical or specialized material should be in appendices. As a formal document, the report should be well written, avoiding colloquial language but easy to read.

The panel, which will also document its conclusions, will look particularly at:

  • General style and presentation and acceptability as a piece of professional scientific writing.

  • Clarity, conciseness, continuity, and understandability for the reader, even one without specialized knowledge. Considerable emphasis is placed on concise presentation as this is such an important component in modern scientific publications.

  • Clear focus, emphasis on important material, and capacity to avoid the intrusion of less relevant detail.

  • Awareness of the significance of the work and its place in the wider field of knowledge.

Clearly, the panel will have to recognise the difficult task of separating the assessment of the report purely as a scientific document in isolation from the research project itself. Furthermore, many projects are part of team enterprises and this fact can add to difficulties of assessment. It is recognised that some measure of reconciliation by the panel and supervisors between the report and project assessments will sometimes be necessary in arriving fairly at the final marks, which are ultimately decided at the examiners meeting.


  1. The report should be clearly set out and presented bound and printed. A PDF copy of the report must also be submitted.

  2. The use of colour in figures is permitted. However, colour should be used sparingly it does not photocopy well. The School of Physics will reimburse printing costs, up to a maximum of $15. Uniprint is recommended for printing theses from PDF as extra charges only apply for those pages requiring colour.

  3. Since the report is a formal document, like a journal paper it should be written as such, not in a colloquial or journalistic style; nevertheless it should be readily understandable to a competent physicist not only to a narrow specialist. Usual conventions should be followed particularly as to references (use correct style for books as well as journal references).

  4. While there is no set format, normal guidelines to style in scientific writing should be followed. (Refer to style and instruction to authors in Physical Review, Journal of Physics, or publications on the techniques of scientific writing in the MPS Library.) For ease of reading, the report should be subdivided into sections, which are titled, numbered and identified in a contents list. A short summary, in the general style of an abstract should appear at the start of the report. A LATEX template is provided at http://physics.uwa.edu.au/pub/Theses/TeX.

  5. A copy of the research proposal submitted earlier in the year should be contained as an appendix in the report and significant deviations from what was proposed should be noted and explained.

  6. The report should be written for physicists who are not specialists in the field and should encompass only a brief description of the experimental techniques and background with the bulk of the report dealing with results and discussion of them and their significance. Only sufficient background and detail to make the report coherent to the reader should be included in the body of the text which should be as short as practicable; 20 or 30 pages will often be sufficient. In any case it must not exceed 40 A4 pages.

  7. Areas where help has been received should be identified and acknowledged in the report, as would be done in a journal publication or a thesis.

  8. Students must consult with their supervisors over the preparation of the report, preferably by preparing a general layout for approval and then by submitting draft(s) for editorial advice as to style, content and detail as the report is cast into its final form.

  9. The copy of the report finally submitted must be signed by the supervisor to indicate that it has been produced under adequate supervision. (This is similar to the procedure for submitting higher degree theses.)

  10. In many cases the report will serve as an important document for future workers and is often seen as a laboratory handbook. In this context, much material very relevant to the project but irrelevant to the report (and especially to the report assessment) should only be included, if at all, as appendices or attachments. Do not hesitate to use references to sections of lab diaries rather than lengthy appendices.

  11. Two bound copies of the report are required to be submitted (physics office facilities may be used for binding). These copies remain the property of the School and will not be returned. If required, a copy for the author and further copies for legitimate purposes can be made using School facilities.

  12. Detailed background, experimental techniques, construction details, data, programs, etc., are essential parts of a complete record of the overall project. These should be included, preferably in electronic format, as appendices or as an "accompanying document" which will not be considered for credit in the assessment of the report.
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