Final Year Project Report Writing


What is a Final Year Project Report?

The Final Year Project Report (FYPR) reflects the integration and application of concepts learned during your undergraduate study. For the FYPR, you will need to select a specific topic to investigate, identify a focus for your investigation, collect and analyse relevant information to demonstrate:

  • your disciplinary and specialized knowledge within the field of Applied Physics
  •  your ability to critically analyse information on the topic being investigated
  •  your research skills as well as
  •  your competence for academic writing assignments.

In terms of structure, organization of information and the use of academic language, your Applied Physics FYPR reflects the conventions of the scientific writing genre.
Your FYPR details and explains the outcomes of your research which, under Capstone Project requirements, might be a research (simulated) experiment, a performance, a design of products and systems, a study based on theoretical inferences, analyses or deductions, or mathematical calculations. FYPRs submitted for this project have belonged to one of the following categories:

  1. Experiment-based FYPRs
  2. Computer-simulation based FYPRs
  3. Product- or System-based FYPRs

The macro structure of each of these categories of FYPRs varies, with differences in the type and number of sections included. You should familiarise yourself with departmental conventions for research papers before you start drafting your own report. Your lecturer may also specify the different sections you need to include in your FYPR.
The following section outlines the defining characteristics of an experiment-based FYPR. If your FYPR belongs to one of the other two types, please go the relevant Genre Guide on this website.

Experiment-based FYPR

Part 1: The macro-structures of the Experiment-based FYPR

Experiment-based FYPRs report on laboratory experiments conducted or experimental research undertaken. The report structure is similar to published experimental articles with four conventional sections including Introduction (I), Method (M), Results (R), and Discussion (D), structured in the pattern of “Introduction, Method, Results and Discussion, Conclusion” (“IM[RD]C”), or in the pattern “Introduction, Literature Review, Method, Results and Discussion, Conclusion” (“ILM[RD]C”). Table 1 below outlines the structure of an experiment-based FYPR and illustrates it with examples from a student paper on the application of poly (3-hexylthiophene (P3HT) to facilitate TiO2 photocatalysis activity, TiO2 being accepted as an ideal photocatalyst for degradation of organic pollutants in industrial sewage.

Table 1: Macro-structure of an experiment-based FYPR

Major structural components

Corresponding chapters in example FYPR

Communicative purposes



A summary of the problem/phenomenon being investigated and the rationale for the investigation; a brief description of the research design; a short summary of key data; a summary of main findings and significance of project; an overview of possible limitations of project and significant recommendations for future work.


Chapter 1 Introduction
Sewage water treatment in Hong Kong
Overview of report

To introduce the background to sewage water treatment in Hong Kong.
To provide information about motivation and project objectives.
To inform the readers of the content of subsequent chapters


Chapter 2 Literature Review
Photocatalytic mechanism of TiO2
Review of conventional methods for TiO2 synthesis


To explain the basic properties of the material used ( TiO2)
To explain the fundamental principles underpinning procedures adopted.


Chapter 3 Fabrication procedures and experimental setups
Synthesis of P3HT/TiO2
Preparation of TiO2 solvent
Preparation of P3HT/TiO2 double layer samples
Sample testing method
Fabrication of microfluidic reactors
Microfluidic reactor sample testing method


To describe in detail the process of synthesis of P3HT/TiO2 and the preparation of materials for the experiment.

To explain the method for testing samples
To explain the process of fabricating microfluidic reactors
To explain the process for testing the microfluidic reactor



Chapter 4 Results and Discussion or


Chapter 4 Results
Chapter 5 Discussion
Content included:
Enhancement of photocatalysis efficiency for bulk reactors
Enhancement of photocatalysis efficiency for microfluidic reactors
Degradation of P3HT by TiO2 and possible solutions

To present key findings (Results) and to discuss implications of findings in view of existing theory to highlight similarities/differences, and outline limitations of research.
As above, but in separate sections, with the limitations being outlined in the Discussion.


Chapter 5 Conclusion and future recommendations

To include an overall review of project aims and what has been achieved, and the directions for further work regarding unsolved problems. Point out directions for further research.



To include a list of sources cited in the report.


Part 2: The sections of an experiment-based Final Year Project Report

The following section outlines important aspects of the different sections of the experiment-based FYPR in more general terms.

Note: This is not a section, but an important organisational feature of your report
The purpose of a title is to communicate the main focus of your paper. The title should:

  • be concise, clear and catch the reader’s attention
  • appeal to both expert and non-specialist readers and generate interest in reading further.

You should consider revising the title after your report is ready, as this is when you will have developed a good idea of the paper and can summarise its focus in a few key words more effectively than at the start of your project.

This section, which follows the title and precedes the Acknowledgements section, provides a succinct summary of the content of your research paper and is intended to provoke the reader’s interest in reading further. As you will have a comprehensive idea of your research at the end of the process, this section should be written when the project has been completed. An effective abstract should be self-contained – unless the study follows on from previous research, it should focus on your research process and its findings. It should also be clear and concise, and not include specialist terminology unless absolutely necessary.

Typical Moves in an abstract
The following table outlines the typical moves/key elements in an abstract, with example extracts to highlight each move.
Note: Example extracts may not all be from the same student paper

A summary of the problem/phenomenon being investigated and the rationale for the investigation

Industrial sewage treatment, which is of significance in water recycling and environmental protection, has been extensively researched. TiO2 is widely accepted as a ideal photocatalyst for degrading organic pollutants, but with drawbacks such as low absorption of visible light.

A brief description of the research design/process

In this experiment, poly (3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) was applied to modify and facilitate TiO2 photocatalysis activity. A double-layer structure of P3HT/TiO2 with P3HT either as the top or bottom layer was used to analyse TiO2’s effectiveness in methyl blue degradation.
This experiment proposed possible mechanisms based on experiment results and previous research: P3HT electrons could absorb visible light photons and excite its electrons. These electrons would then be injected into TiO2's conduction band to facilitate generation of free radicals that worked directly for degrading organic pollutants in the solution.
This experiment also fabricated microfluidic reactors with P3HT (top)/TiO2 (bottom) structure and obtained similar results with bulk reactors. In addition, it compared the manual and mechanical dispensing methods for TiO2 layer fabrication and demonstrated that the mechanical dispensing yielded higher efficiency by increasing the surface area.

A short summary of key data

In the P3HT (top)/TiO2(bottom) structure, the degradation efficiency depended highly on the thickness of P3HT, with both thicker or thinner P3HT layer reducing its efficiency. The optimal efficiency for P3HT occurred during the process of spin coating at 4000rpm using 3.75mg/ml P3HT solution. In theTiO2 (top)/P3HT (bottom) structure, the degradation efficiency was also related to the thickness of the TiO2 layer. Degradation efficiency kept increasing with an increase in the thickness of the TiO2 layer, and then tended to saturate.

A summary of main findings and significance of project

In this experiment, it was discovered that P3HT could be degraded quickly by TiO2 with the assistance of UV light for the P3HT (top)/TiO2 (bottom) samples. TiO2 (top)/P3HT (bottom) samples were confirmed to be free from this problem, possibly because P3HT was isolated from O2 in the air with TiO2 layer's protection. An additional 160 °C annealing procedure was added to the fabrication of TiO2 (top)/P3HT(bottom) samples for better crystallinity of TiO2 and its tight attachment to the substrate. Experiment proved that this procedure could improve the substrate quality and enhance its photocatalysis efficiency visibly.
This is the first attempt to use conductive polymer to form a heterogeneous bilayer of TiO2 so as to render the visible photocatalytic activity to the TiO2 photocatalyst. As compared to the other available methods such as doping TiO2 with C, N or metallic elements, and attaching surface plasmonic noble metal nanoparticles, the use of conductive polymer layer is simple to fabricate and more stable. Though not as effective as expected, performance improvement was noted. This work is a start of the new hybrid polymer/TiO2 photocatalyst research.

An overview of possible limitations of project

Photoluminescence could not establish the effectiveness of sonification and this could be attributed to the inhibiting nature of the solvent used.

Significant recommendations for future work

We propose that another fabrication method be adopted to overcome the limitation of the LSPR wavelength (<860nm) and more TEM images of gold nanorods be utilized for comparison with SEM images in future.




In this section, which follows the Abstract, you should acknowledge the assistance provided by your department, supervisor(s) and PhD students, and also any technical support provided by relevant staff/centres at the University. Here is one example Acknowledgements section from an FYPR. Note that pseudonyms have been used in the example.

I would like to acknowledge the support of the Department of Applied Physics, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in particular, my supervisor Dr. Albert Dickinson and his PhD student, Joanne Wang for their continuous guidance and support.
I would also like to thank the Materials Research Centre (MRC) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the technical support provided.


Table of Contents
This section informs the reader about the structure of the paper. In this section you should:

  • include all section and sub-section headings and reflect the subordinate relationship between them (i.e. a sub-section heading clearly reflects the contribution of that section to the content of the larger section it belongs to)
  • include a list of appendices, tables and figures as appropriate
  • use concise, relevant and informative headings.

An example of a Table of Contents page from one experiment-based FYPR is provided below.


Although the introduction is placed at the beginning of the entire report and has a key role in providing a background for the research, it should be revisited after the report is complete and revised to ensure it is relevant to the rest of the work in terms of logic, content and flow. You should:

  • include information about the background and motivations (contextual information, importance and necessity) for the study
  • provide definitions of technical terms/specialist terminology used in the paper
  • make a clear distinction between what is assumed (previous research, existing theories) and what will be demonstrated (your contribution to the field)
  • outline the objective(s) of the study and the research questions/hypotheses and how they will be achieved
  • include an overview of the report identifying the constituent sections of the report and what they will cover.

Below is a sample Introduction from one experiment based FYPR which exemplifies all the points outlined above.


Literature Review
This section outlines relevant research to provide background information for your research topic. In an experiment-based FYPR, you would outline the basic properties of materials used and the fundamental principles underpinning procedures adopted. You should detail theoretical details of materials, processes and project motivations and provide an overview of the organisation of the report. You could include this information in the Introduction or have a separate section, Literature Review, outlining this content.
The following example of an experiment-based FYPR illustrates how background information about the research topic, project motivations and theoretical details about materials and processes are detailed in one single chapter, Introduction.

Here is another example Introduction from this category of FYPR. In this example text, the student has two separate sections, Introduction, where the properties of two compounds Methyl Methacrylate and Molbydenum Disulphide are outlined; and Theory, where the theoretical background of processes and techniques utilized in the experiment is described in detail, constituting the literature review.


In this section, you describe the research design, how you are going to apply it and justify your approach. You should:

  • describe the research design, data collection procedures and methods of analysis for anyone interested in your study to replicate it
  • provide all essential details of the research design, the instruments/tools and materials, and methods of analysis. Explain your research method clearly so that the reliability and generalisability of the findings from your project can be maximized and your readers can be convinced of the rigor of your research design and methods.

Below is a sample Methodology section from one experiment-based FYPR. This section has also been labelled ‘Procedures, Fabrication procedures and experimental set-up’.


Results and Discussion

The Results and Discussion section is the most important section of your report as this is where you present your findings and explain their significance. The main purpose of writing up your Results section is to inform your readers about what you observed and found during the research process. You will need to present your key findings in a factual, strategic and systematic manner, such that they provide a framework for your discussion section. In the latter, you need to refer to your results, interpret what they mean and make claims about your findings- that is, explain to the reader how you believe your claims can be understood/interpreted

Approaches to presenting the findings and reporting on their implications vary across departments. In some, the ‘results’ and ‘discussion’ sections are presented independently, while others take the approach of presenting results and analysing their implications within the same chapter. In either approach, the interpretation of findings (discussion) ends with an outline of the practical implications of the research and an acknowledgement of possible limitations. A separate chapter is then used to present concluding observations – the ‘Conclusion’ – and outline recommendations for future research – ‘Recommendations’. As with other sections, it is important you consult your supervisor to determine departmental conventions about the format of this important section.

The following guiding principles are useful to understand how you can develop and organize information in this important section.

  • Understand your data thoroughly and select aspects of your data set that can work towards answering your research questions and/or explaining your hypotheses.
  • Report data analysis and describe results either by data-group, analytical method or key findings, in order of the significance of the information (include the most important first).
  • Present your results in a clear and logical manner using appropriate data representation techniques (box plots/graphs/charts/tables/sets of formulas) to synthesise and present key results.
  • Provide a brief textual description or caption for each data set represented.

Create a logically organized and coherent report by using appropriate section headings which clearly link to the objectives of the research. This approach will allow you to establish the contribution of your data and presentation of results towards answering the research questions and fulfilling the objectives of the research.  This example from a student’s FYPR exemplifies this point.

Research Objectives listed

Sub-section headings used in Results and Discussion chapter

1. Fabrication and test on P3HT/TiO2 double-layer bulk reactors

4.1 Enhancement of photocatalysis efficiency for bulk reactors

2. Fabrication and test on P3HT/TiO2 double-layer microfluidic reactors

4.2 Enhancement of photocatalysis efficiency for microfluidic reactors

3. Improvement on fabrication procedures to enhance the performance of P3HT/TiO2 reactors.

4.3 Degradation of P3HT by TIO2 and possible solutions.

  • Focus on your own results. Do not make statements that cannot be substantiated by results from your research.
  • Avoid repeating figures presented in your graphs and tables – use approximation instead. For example, if you wish to discuss a finding of 48.9 %, you would say ‘slightly less than half of the respondents…’, or ‘almost half of the respondents’, depending on whether you wish to highlight the data in a negative or in a positive manner respectively. The following handout from Purdue University’s OWL website provides information on writing with statistics.
  • Develop the discussion strategically, emphasizing particularly interesting or important aspects of your findings (unexpected findings are important as well – they can make your chapter more interesting) and outline implications.
  • Outline the limitations of your research and, if possible, point out how they could have affected any results.

Note: The strength of your conclusion will depend on how the discussion is developed. If each sub-section in the discussion clearly develops one main aspect, it makes it easier for you to extract these points and form your conclusions.
The following extract presents a Results and Discussion section from one experiment-based FYPR.

In some experiment-based FYPRs, the Results and Discussion section includes a series of graphs and diagrams to present interventions or procedures and their resulting effects. The following extract from an experiment-based FYPR outlining the preparation and characterization of gold nanoparticles for optical property studies illustrates this organizational pattern.

Language use in the Results and Discussion section
Language use in reporting findings (Results)
The past tense is generally used when reporting on your findings.

In order to solve the P3HT degradation problem, the TiO2 (top)/P3HT(bottom) sample was tested by UV light. After 20 minutes of irradiation, P3HTcolor remained unchanged, and this is shown in Figure 4.7


It is also possible to use the present tense, if you take the perspective that results are facts arrived at after analysing the data.


By comparison of TiO2 samples and P3HT/TiO2 samples, it can be observed that all P3HT/TiO2 samples have a higher degradation efficiency compared with their corresponding TiO2 samples. The increase in efficiency is ~7% at 45 minutes for all sample pairs.

Use the present tense when referring to figures, tables or charts. This is because you are discussing information that the reader is looking at and not reporting on results obtained.

A P3HT/TiO2 sample was irradiated by UV lamp at its center for 10 minutes in the air. Figure 4.5 shows that a shallow hole was produced at the irradiation position.


Language for Interpreting facts and making claims

In this section, you need to explain to the reader how you believe your claims can be understood/interpreted. During this process, you need to present your claims tentatively to avoid being criticised/challenged about the nature of your interpretations. The use of hedging expressions (which has been covered in Part 4) allows you to limit the nature of claims you have made and make them more tentative.

Link to the section on hedging

Choice of verb tenses
In an experiment-based FYPR, you will offer explanations for, or interpret the significance of your findings. The present tense is most frequently used in this section, except when referring to completed processes/procedures. The following extract from an FYPR in this category exemplifies the tenses used when presenting and interpreting results. Note the use of hedging expressions to interpret the significance of results and the use of past tense to refer to completed procedures/phenomena that have already been observed.


Possible solution for P3HT degradation
In order to solve the P3HT degradation problem, the TiO2(top)/P3HT(bottom) sample was tested by UV light. After 20 minutes of irradiation, P3HTcolor was not changed, shown in Figure 4.7.

Notice that compared with this result, the P3HT (top)/TiO2(bottom) color changed following 10 minutes of UV irradiation. This proves that TiO2(top)/P3HT(bottom) sample is much more stable than P3HT(top)/TiO2(bottom) sample. One possible reason is that O2 is blocked by the TiO2 layer and cannot reach the P3HT layer. For the degradation to occur, O2 is a necessary component as has already been discussed in equation (2) of section 2.1. But as O2 is isolated from the P3HT molecules, the serial reactions (2) - (9) can no longer continue. Therefore P3HT are protected by the top TiO2 layer.
However, the TiO2(top)/P3HT(bottom) sample has another limitation compared with P3HT(top)/TiO2(bottom) sample. That is, since P3HT cannot withstand high temperature, the TiO2 was not annealed in N2 furnace at 500 °C. In this case, TiO2 is not well crystallized and cannot attach tightly to the substrate. Therefore, during testing, the TiO2 powders will continue to drop off the substrate, causing efficiency decrease and low stability.

This section emphasizes the unity of the main themes of your research project and situates your research against the broader field of study. In this section, you should:

  • directly address the thesis statement outlined in the Introduction chapter and only include what you have discussed, not new ideas.
  • organize your points using either approach: 1) summary of findings, conclusions and contributions, and 2) suggestions for further research or: 1) discussion of problems, 2) implications for existing theory and practice, and 3) recommendations for implementation.
  • avoid repeating the points mentioned in the analysis and discussion segments. Use language strategically and manage the content concisely to avoid redundancy.
  • explain how your research has contributed to the field – has it added to existing research or altered existing perspectives?
  • outline how you have answered questions raised in the Introduction.

References and Citations

  • Follow the required citation format according to departmental recommendations.
  • Ensure correspondence between in-text and end-of-text entries.

This section of your report includes supplementary material that the reader will find useful to understand the development of your project. Some useful reminders for this section are:

  • If you have large amounts of raw data, include them in the appendices.
  • Use informative titles (e.g. Appendix A: Fabrication procedures to enhance P3HT/TiO2 reactor performance).
  • Refer the reader to relevant appendices in the text of your report (e.g. ‘please refer to Appendix A for Fabrication procedures to enhance P3HT/TiO2 reactor performance’).

Part 3: Points to note when writing the Final Year Project

  • Before you write:
    • consider relevant theories you can use to situate your research
    • plan how much information you are going to write for each section – i.e. which section should be longer / shorter (sometimes your lecturer will give you a word limit for particular sections of the study)
      TIP: you may want to write a rough outline of your research report
    • consider how much your audience (could be the person who is marking your work) knows already (this would affect how detailed you want to be when explaining certain theories and details).
  • While you write:
    • provide appropriate headings for each section you write (do not just copy headings that are given in writing guides provided by your lecturers)
    • make sure you have explained the theories you used so people will know what you are talking about (the explanation can be short)
    • make sure your citations refer to the theories you have used
    • make sure your ideas are logical / logically linked
    • read what you have written so far from time to time to check the logic and language (this is also helpful to see if you have written too much or too little for each section).
  • After you write:
    • reread and proofread your work (this will help you find mistakes in your writing that you have missed)
    • make sure you have cited all your sources in and at the end of your writing, following the specified referencing style.


Part 4: Language features of scientific research writing


Researchers shift between using assertive language when describing facts and tentative language when making claims about their findings. This ensures their writing will not be labeled inaccurate or based on incorrect assumptions. You can use tentative statements, limiting words, modal verbs and hedging verbs as the table below shows.

Tentative language techniques


Tentative statements

Tends to, suggests that, appears to, would seem to

Limiting words

Possible/possibly, probable/probably, likely

Modal verbs

May, may be, might, might be, might have been, could, could be, could have been, would, would be, would have been

Hedging verbs

Appears, suggests, indicates

Examples of tentative language from an experiment-based FYPR:

  • TiO2 (top)/P3HT (bottom) samples were confirmed to be free from this problem, possiblybecause P3HT was isolated from) 2 in the air with the TiO2 protective layer.
  • The experiment has shown that this procedure could improve the substrate quality and enhance its photocatalysis efficiency visibly.
  • It has been reported that the anastase structure of TiO2 can perform better in both photocatalysis and photostabilty [2]. This is probablybecause rutile is quite stable with less defects and dislocations to generate oxygen vacancies that can trap electrons.
  • The most probable explanation for the photocatalytic mechanism of TiO2 /P3HT described by Wang et al. [3] is that …
  • The result indicates that …
  • When the P3HT layer is too thick, excited electrons at the top surface of P3HT layer might have difficulty…
  • The results suggest that the P3HT layer…

Academic language

Your report is a formal document and hence it is important to use formal language and avoid informal language forms. The following table lists informal examples of common language forms and provides formal alternatives.

Language forms

Informal example

Formal equivalent

Phrasal verbs

Look at




Do not

Colloquial expressions

A lot of

Extensive (uncountable)/ numerous (countable)

Informal language

Big problem

Major problem

Vague expressions

Good essay

A well-organised essay
The public

Informal verbs



Objective writing
Academic writing should be as objective as possible. Subjective and strongly emotional language such as ‘fantastic, wonderful, lovely, absolutely’ should be avoided. Objectivity can be enhanced through techniques such as:
This refers to the use of tentative language to make one’s writing less assertive and tone down any inherent subjectivity, as the following example shows:
By designing a double-layer structure of P3HT/TiO2, with PH3T as either the top or the bottom layer, the experiment shows that P3HT could enhance TiO3’s performance in methyl blue degradation under sunlight.
Avoid definite expressions such as clearly, obviously, without a doubt, certainly, undoubtedly, definitely, there is no doubt that, absolutely.

Passive constructions
These structures tend to make the writing information focused and thus more objective than active constructions, which emphasise the person taking action.
Two main algorithms – either random or regular – for generating fractal landscapes are discussed in Chapter 3.

Neutral language
The use of emotional language - adjectives and attitudinal expressions reflecting opinions and attitudes conveys subjectivity, and must be avoided in academic writing.
INAPPRORPRIATE: This study contributes extensively to our knowledge of nanofibres in the clothing industry.
APPROPRIATE: This study adds to our knowledge of nanofibres in the clothing industry.

Attitudinal expressions are only used in the Introduction/Literature review sections to highlight the lack of attention in research to a specific aspect of study, to emphasise the contribution of the writer’s own research to the field by drawing attention to the lack of attention to that aspect in previous studies.

Granular flow exhibits a variety of dynamical phenomena, which have been attracting research interest for many years (for reviews, see e.g. Savage 1984 and Jaeger, Nagel & Behringer 1996). …The comprehensive rheology of the granular flow has not been fully understood yet, except for the rapid collisional flow regime…
Source: Mitarai, N. & Nakanishi, H. (2004), ‘Linear stability analysis of rapid granular flow down a slope and density wave formation’, J. Fluid Mech. 507, 309–334.

Nominalisation – the use of a noun phrase generated from another word class, usually a verb –is an integral feature of scientific writing. Other word classes include adjectives and nouns. In this process, nouns (things, concepts or people) replace verbs (actions or events). This technique helps you to:

  • create variety in your writing
  • convey an objective, impersonal tone
  • reduce the length of your text
  • make your writing more abstract and formal

Read the following extract from a student paper.
These electrons would then be injected into TiO2’s conduction band to facilitate generation of free radicals that worked directly for degradation of organic pollutants in the solution. (27 words)
Here is one possible nominalised version:
The injection of electrons into TiO2’s conduction band generates free radicals that promote the degradation of organic pollutants in the solution (21 words).
The message in the nominalised version is more concise and less confusing than that of the original version.

Use of tenses
Conventions for the use of tenses vary across disciplines. You should refer to journals and other publications in your field to become familiar with the tenses used in your discipline. Your tutor or lecturer’s recommendations and even your study guides are good starting points. However, the section of your report also can determine the choice of tenses used, as the following table shows.

Section of report

Tense commonly used

Rationale for use

Examples from Applied Physics FYPRs


Present/ present perfect

To present facts when detailing background information / to refer to ongoing research

Industrial sewage contains toxic organic pollutants.
A variety of water purification methods have been researched and implemented.

Literature review

Present tense


Past tense

To indicate research findings are still relevant


To indicate a gap in previous research or show that the research is no longer relevant

As this electron-pair is generated, a series of reactions are generated for the degradation of organic pollutants [2,3].
Dye sensitization, doping with metal ions or non-metal atoms and semi-conductor coupling were commonly-used techniques to address these problems.


Past tense


Present tense

To describe completed procedures


To refer to diagrams and figures

P3HT was initially dissolved in chloroform with a 30g/ml concentration.

Figure 3.2 reflects the setup of P3HT/TiO2 bulk reactor testing.


Past tense


Present tense

To refer to results obtained


To refer to figures, tables and graphs

The empty sample (glass) reflected the lowest degradation efficiency.

The degradation efficiency of TiO2 samples is shown in Figure 4.2


Present tense


Past tense

To explain significance of results, to interpret results

To summarise findings

As the thickness of P3HT increases, the effect of this mechanism is supposedly reduced.
This experiment successfully proved that P3HT can assist TiO2 in photocatalysis of methyl blue for both bulk and micro reactors.


A combination of tenses

To highlight completed research and identify directions for further research

In terms of TiO2 (top)/P3HT ( bottom structure, photcatalysis efficiency would saturate when the thickness of TiO2 reached a certain level. The positive effect of P3HT’s assistance was also confirmed in microfluidic devices. In addition, the experiment  shows that the machinery dispensing method could enhance TiO2 performance.  is an excellent resource for understanding how the choice of verb tenses in scientific writing can convey particular academic meanings.

For an extensive discussion on language features of scientific reports, you are advised to refer to the above resource from Monash University, as it explains each language feature with detailed examples. This resource is also invaluable for information about the different stages of report writing (planning, drafting and finalizing your report) and compiling a coherent, unified text.

Use of abbreviations
When you plan to use an abbreviation, you need to introduce it by first spelling out the word or term, followed by the abbreviation within parentheses. For example, if you were to use the abbreviation “TEM” you would do so as follows:
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) …
Key points to remember when using abbreviations are:

  • Do not use them in the title of the report or in the Abstract as it will confuse the reader.
  • Only use them when a key word or term is used at a moderate frequency (at least three times).
  • Include a table as part of the front elements of your report (after the list of figures and tables) listing all abbreviations used, if you have used multiple abbreviations.

Collocations are understood as words that go together, which are features of habitual and natural language use. In academic English, four grammatical categories are noted:

  • Adjective-noun collocations
  • Adverb-adjective collocations
  • Verb+noun or verb+ adverb collocations
  • Noun+noun collocations

(Paterson, 2013)
The following example illustrates an incorrect example of collocation use:
Unique material is needed for a deeply investigation.
Unique material is need for an in-depth investigation.
In the second sentence, ‘deeply’ is replaced by ‘in-depth’ which is an appropriate collocate of ‘investigation’. For help with correct usage of collocation, you are advised to consult collocations dictionaries, such as Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English and PolyU’s on-line corpora such as Corpus of Research Articles ( Another way is to make use of a corpus for generating concordances giving contextualized examples of the term.


Part 5: Common language errors noted in students’ FYPRs

The following table includes examples of common errors noted in student papers. The examples are a representative sample and are not to be viewed as a complete list.

Error type

Example from student paper (possible options in brackets)

Word choice

It was noted that the addictive Thiourea plays an important role… (additive)


After producing those samples successfully, we conduct some characterization involves (conducted, involving)


The experiment shows that P3HT could enhance (can)

Subject-verb agreement

MoS2 is a compound that having unique properties (that has unique properties)

Academic language (Subjective expressions)

______ has always been a popular research topic (extensively-researched topic)


This experiment has proved that… (suggests/demonstrates)


Gold nanorods have a biological compatibility, it is capapble to enter many type of cell without emerging any immune response.
(Gold nanorods have biological compatability/are biologically compatible. They can enter many types of cells without generating any immune response/without any immune response emerging).


In the analytical part, different options are used. (What was the focus of the analysis? What are the options?)

Verb forms

… and to excite its electrons (and excite)

Starting a sentence with For…

For TiO2 (top)/P3HT (bottom) structure, the degradation efficiency was also related to the thickness of the TiO2 layer.
Degradation efficiency for a TiO2 (top)/P3HT (bottom) structure was related to the thickness of the TiO2 layer.

Use of articles

Experiment proved that this procedure could improve the substrate quality and enhance its photocatalysis efficiency.
The experiment proved that this procedure could improve the substrate quality and enhance its photocatalysis efficiency.


Part 6: Formatting guidelines for FYPR reports

  1. Guidelines for the Abstract

    (courtesy Dr. Xuming Zhang, Department of Applied Physics, HK Polytechnic University)

    Title Should Be in Bold, 18-Point Type and Centered


    Author name(s) 10-point type, centered and bolded
    Author affiliations
    E-mail address: (8-point type, centered, italicized)

    Abstract: Justify the paragraph (on both right and left), and use 10-point Times New Roman font. Your abstract should state the problem, the methods used, the major results and conclusions.  

1. Introduction to main text format and page layout
The first line of the first paragraph of a section or subsection should start flush left. The first line of subsequent paragraphs within the section or subsection should be indented 0.62 cm (0.2 in.).
   Paper size should be A4 format 21.0 cm × 29.7 cm (8.27 in. × 11.69 in.) with 2.54 cm (1 in.) margins on all sides. The point size should be 10-point and font should be Times New Roman. The introduction should be no more than one page.
2.  Figures and tables
Figures and tables should be centered (except for small figures less than 6.6 cm or 2.6 in. in width, which may be placed side by side) and located inside paper margins. Table captions (10-point font) should be centered above tables, and figure captions (8-point font) should be centered below figures (for example, “Fig. 1. Near-field”).
3.  Equations
Equations should be centered, and equation numbers should only appear to the right of the last line of the equation, in parentheses.  For long equations, the equation number may appear on the next line.
4.  References
References should appear at the end of the paper in the order in which they are referenced in the body of the paper.  The font should be 8 point, and the references should be aligned left.
   Within the main text, references should be designated by a number in brackets [1], and they should be followed by a comma or period [2]. Two references cited at once should be included together [2,3], separated by a comma, while three or more consecutive references should be indicated by the bounding numbers and a dash [1–3].

[1] M. Rahmani, B. Lukiyanchuk, T. Tahmasebi, Y. Lin, T. Liew, and M. Hong, Appl. Phys. A Mater. Sci. Process. 107, 23-30 (2012).
[2] Author(s), "Title of paper," in Title of Proceeding, (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, New York, 1900), pp. 00-00.
[3] Author(s), "Title of paper," in Title of Proceedings, Name(s), ed(s)., Vol. XX of OSA Proceedings Series (Optical Society of America, Washington, D.C., 1900), pp. 00-00.

  1. Guidelines for figures, curves and tables
    (courtesy Dr. Xuming Zhang, Department of Applied Physics, HK Polytechnic University)
    1. Format of figures of curves

      It is suggested that you use EXCEL or Origin to plot the curves.
      • Numbering: the numbering of the figures should be consecutive in a report. In the text, the figure should be cited as “Figure xxx”. For example, the 5th figure should be written as “Figure 5” anywhere in the report. See the figure example 1 below.
              If a figure consists of several sub-figures, these sub-figures should be numbered by “(a)”, “(b)”, “(c)”, etc. When referring to any sub-figures, it should be written as “Figure 5 (a)”.
              If several figures are referred at the same time, it should be written as “Figures 3 and 5”, “Figures 3-5”, “Figure 3 (a)-(e)”.
      • Caption: the figure caption should be BELOW the figure, WITH punctuation. If the caption is shorter than a full line, it is aligned to the CENTER. Otherwise, it is aligned to both sides. See the figure example 1 below.
      • Size: typical size of the figure is 4 inch ´ 3 inch.
      • Font: In the caption, the figure numbering should be written in Time New Roman 12, bold, upper case. For example, “FIGURE 3”. While the caption description has the same font with the text, commonly Time New Roman 12. See samples below.
              Inside the figure, the font size should be smaller than the text by 1 or 2. In data curves, the axis labels can be Arial 10, the axis values Arial 8, and the legend Arial 9. See the figure examples 1 and 2 below.
      • Color, line type and marker type of the curves: to ensure a nice visual effect in the final print-out (in GRAYSCALE), different line types and marker types should be used if there are more than one curve or group of data. The color should not be too light after printing.
              If a figure has the second axis, the curves should be pointed to their corresponding axes. See the figure example 2 below.
        Figure example 1:

        Figure example 2:

        FIGURE 2 Comparison of the position shifts of the real pivot and virtual pivot at different rotation angles. Pivot shift (a) in the x direction and (b) in the y direction.
    2. Format of tables
      It is suggested that you use EXCEL or the TABLE function in MS WORD.


      • Numbering: the numbering of the table should be consecutive in a report. In the text, the table should be written and cited as “Table xxx”. For example, the 1st table should be written as “Table 1” when cited anywhere in the chapter.
      • Caption: the table caption should be ABOVE the table, WITHOUT punctuation. If the caption is shorter than a full line, it is aligned to the CENTER. Otherwise, it is aligned to both sides.
              The table number in the caption should be upper case and bold.
      • Font in table: Typically, the font size inside the table is recommended to be Arial 10.The titles of columns can be bold. All black.
      • Border lines: The left and right side of the table should be open, the top and bottom lines are solid lines, 1½-pt thick. No line to separate the items. Should have lines (½-pt thick, solid) to separate the columns, and between the column title and the items. All in black.
        TABLE 1 Comparison of the predicted parameters by the generalized model with the experimental data


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This website has been developed as part of the UGC funded project, "Supporting and developing students’ English literacy practices in the disciplines” which is funded by the University Grants Committee’s Competitive Funding Scheme on Teaching and Learning for the 2012-2015 triennium. This inter-institutional literacy project aims to examine the provision of English literacy across three broad disciplines in Hong Kong tertiary institutes, namely Social Science, Science and Engineering in the participating institutions that include the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Baptist University. The website consists of a comprehensive support system to help provide a stimulating learning environment for students, content and language teachers. It also aims to help teachers become conversant with disciplinary genres and the linguistic and pedagogical resources suitable in a second language learning environment. The resources on this website will be open to and shared by all tertiary institutions in Hong Kong and beyond.