Applied Physics Final Year Project Report (Computer Simulation-based)


Genre Guide

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 specialised knowledge within the field of Applied Physics
  •  your ability to critically analyse information on the topic being investigated
  •  your research skills
  •  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 a computer simulation-based FYPR. If your FYPR belongs to one of the other two types, please go the relevant Genre Guide on this website.

Part 1: The macro-structures of a computer simulation-based FYPR Computer simulation-based FYPR

  • This type of FYPR reports on the use of computer simulation, which is an additional method to two other more traditional scientific investigative approaches: “theoretical analysis or deduction”, and “empirical analysis or induction”. According to Harrison (1998: 6), a computer simulation is defined as “a computational model of system behavior coupled with an experiment design”. This “experiment design” requires specifications of all hypothetical conditions and variable values in order to run the simulation program. The computational model of system behavior comprises the relevant algorithms, equations or rules for simulation analyses and variables. Important aspects to attend to in computer simulation research are:
  • Model transparency
  • The modeling process
  • Reproducibility of results

Rahmandad and Sterman (2012) explain that in simulation experiments, a model is set up and simulation run(s) are conducted to generate numerical results. Detailed description of all steps involved in the process should be provided to ensure that every reported simulation experiment can be repeated and results reproduced to reflect consistency with reported results within an accepted range of computational error. Simulation research requires compliance with reporting requirements, which can be categorized as Minimum or Preferred Simulation Reporting Requirements (MSRR/PSRR). These two concepts are explained in further detail in the Results and Discussion section.

The rhetorical organization of this type of FYPR is illustrated below, using one example student paper in this category, which uses computer programming to investigate the simulation of fractal objects such as landscapes.

Table 1: The macro-structure of computer simulation-based FYPRs

Major structural components

Corresponding chapters in the example FYPR

Communicative purposes



To summarise the research and inform the reader about the purpose and relevance of the paper


Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Fractal landscapes
1.2 Properties of fractals

1.3 Organisation of the report


To introduce the background of the phenomenon under investigation
To define the basic concepts and the properties of the research object being investigated
To outline the organization of information in the report


Chapter 2 Mathematical background
2.1 Signal spectra
2.2 Fractal dimension
2.3 Box counting method
2.4 Probability distribution
2.4.1Normal distribution
2.4.2 Uniform distribution

To introduce relevant mathematical concepts and knowledge for simulation analyses


Chapter 3
Fractal landscape
3.1Midpoint Displacement Method.
3.1.1 Regular fractal landscape
3.1.2 Random Fractal Landscape
3.1.3 Fractal Surface by Diamond Square Algorithm 
3.2 Fourier Filtering Method
3.2.1 1/fβ filter in one-dimension.
3.2.2 1/fβ filter in two-dimension

To present and explain the main algorithms or equations and related variable values, and comment on the results of computer simulation research when different algorithms are programmed.


Chapter 4
Other objects and effects on landscape
4.1 Fractal trees
4.2 Clouds
4.3 Fog effect by setting transparency properties
4.4 Spatial filters

To discuss other elements and effects which are important to construct the scene and the modifications in computer programming.


Chapter 5 Conclusion

To summarise main simulation research findings, reflect on the use of the algorithms, point out the limitations of the simulated research and directions for further research



To include a list of sources cited in the study

Part 2: The sections of a computer simulation-based FYPR

While the previous section has focused on outlining the macro-structure of  computer simulation-based FYPRs, the following section outlines important aspects of the different sections of a FYPR in this category of research report 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. Here are example titles from two student FYPRs in the computer simulation-based category:


High Q factor in Small Size Whispering Gallery Mode

The Simulation of Fractal Mountains

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 and be limited to conveying the most essential information about your report. It should also be clear and concise, and not include specialist terminology unless absolutely necessary. Abstracts could be in the format of a single paragraph, or include sub-sections that parallel the outline of the report. Typical subsections are:

  • Background including information about the context and objective of the research, the problem statement which the research aims to address and the mathematical background including methods of calculation – equations and formulae used – in the simulation, in 2-3 sentences
  • Simulation Methods outlining the simulation analysis in 2-3 sentences
  • Results  summarising main findings in less than 10 sentences
  • Conclusion  summarising the major outcomes of the research in one sentence

You should check with your supervisor to determine which format you are required to follow for this section of your FYPR.

Typical moves in an abstract
The following table outlines the typical moves/key elements in an abstract, with example extracts from a student FYPR in this category to highlight each move.

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

Optical resonators play an extremely important role in modern optics, being fundamental not only in any laser device, but also as an optical filtering and tools for very accurate measurements and for nonlinear optics experiments. However, bulk optical resonators have a number of limitations due to their size, weight, alignment and stability problems. Most of these problems were overcome by integrated ring resonators electromagnetic whispering gallery modes. It has many unique properties, such as ultra-high Q-factors, low mode volumes, small sizes of resonators supporting them and operation at optical and telecommunication frequencies of light. This makes whispering gallery modes ideally suited for many applications.

A brief description of the research design/process

 In this report, the mode wavelengths, Q factors and field patterns from that the resonances are calculated from the Maxwell equations. Due to the complicated calculation of Eigenvalue equation, a Matlab program as a solution for the complex resonance frequency. However, it needs a good estimation of starting point. In non-metallic whispering gallery mode, high Q factor can be achieved for micro-size, but not for nano-size.

A short summary of key data

 Not provided in this FYPR but the following extract from another student FYPR exemplifies this aspect:
The characteristics of landscape for both algorithms can be modified by various parameters including Hurst exponent, types of random generator and scaling factor. The limitations of both algorithms were elaborated by the creasing effect. In the diamond square method, the sharp peaks on the surface can be waived out by spatial low pass filters, achieving desired results.

A summary of main findings and significance of project

It is found that high Q factor whispering gallery modes can be achieved by confining isolation and metallic layers. The metallic layer can enhance the mode confinement and high Q factor for transverse magnetic (TM) modes. But transverse electric (TE) modes are suffered by the metallic absorption, so the mode confinement and Q factor are limited. An optimized thickness of isolation layer should be introduced between resonator and metallic layer to enhance the Q factor in TE modes.

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 computer simulation-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. If your research report is computer simulation-based, you should:

  • include information about the background of the phenomenon being investigated
  • define the basic concepts and the properties of the research object being investigated
  • present and explain relevant mathematical concepts and knowledge for simulation analyses
  • outline the 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 how they will be achieved
  • include an overview of the report identifying the constituent sections of the report and what they will cover.

For example, in one FYPR in this category on the high Q factor in small sized whispering gallery mode, the Introduction explains whispering gallery mode, quality factor and mode volume. These three theoretical concepts underpinning the simulation research are explained and defined in terms of their fundamental characteristics and relevant mathematical formulae. You may refer to the extract below which features the Introduction section of this computer simulation-based FYPR to identify the moves detailed above.
FYPRs in this category usually include a separate literature review section, where the emphasis is not on reviewing relevant literature but on providing details of the simulation including the methods of calculation, the equations, algorithms and formulae used in the calculations. This chapter/section is generally entitled ‘Methods of Calculation’.

In the methodology section of a simulation-based FYPR, you should provide details of the research design, how you are going to apply it and justify your approach so that anyone interested in your study can replicate it. You should:

  • outline the research question that is appropriate for a simulation study
  • describe the model design – specify the target to be modelled in the simulation and the appropriate simulation method you have selected. The choice of simulation method will depend on the problem under investigation
  • specify the data collection procedures – model design usually requires data collection that will determine the parameters for the model and initial simulation conditions
  • provide all essential details of methods of analysis. If you have used a specific software program to support a simulation method, give details. If you have written a programme yourself, provide all the necessary information
  • explain the model testing and verification steps, if any, and explain how any problems occurring during the verification stage were corrected 
  • run the simulation process and explain any variation in model parameters or initial conditions. Through the process of following up on variations, you will be able to test different assumptions. This will help you answer your research questions and test how the model reacts when parameters are changed
  • formulate your findings and conclusions in response to the research questions. Detail 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.

Source: The above information about the Methodology section is based on input from Rose, Spinks and Canhoto (2015).
Below is an example Methodology section from a student paper.
Note: Some features of the Methodology section as outlined above may not be present in the following extract.

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 discussion section, 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.

In simulation-based studies, reporting guidelines need to be strictly followed to ensure reproducibility of research. These guidelines include Minimum and Preferred Simulation Reporting Requirements (MSRR/PSRR) as outlined below:

MSRR refer to detailing materials used and procedures followed and include

  • software and hardware platform(s) used for the simulation
  • simulation algorithm used
  • pre-processing needed on the base case model to facilitate reproduction of the reported experiment(s)
  •  parameter settings
  •  iterations per scenario and post processing step(s).

PSRR refer to information that facilitates the assessment of results beyond the minimum requirements and include

  • specification of sensitivity analysis on robustness of algorithmic parameters
  • information on computational costs
  •  a measure of uncertainty ( e.g. standard deviation, 95% confidence interval)
  •  the statistical significance of the differences between metrics across different scenarios and the significance testing method in stochastic models
  •  how the number of significant digits presented in tables and graphs can be determined; and
  • instructions for conducting the simulation experiment in the original platform (Rahmandad and Sterman, 2012, p. 9-10).

In addition to the specific requirements outlined above, it is important to:

  • 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. This example from a student’s FYPR (from the experiment-based FYPR category), 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

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

4.2 Enhancement of photocatalysis efficiency for microfluidic reactors

  1. 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
  • 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.

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 Conclusion.
The following extract represents a Results and Discussion section from one computer-simulation based FYPR.

Language use in the Results and Discussion section
This sectionoutlinespatterns of language use in terms of use of tenses and tentative language expressions.

Choice of verb tenses
In a computer simulation-based FYPR, you need to present the results of your simulation analysis, and 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.

The following extract from a Results and Discussion section is taken from an experiment-based FYPR. Compared with the above extract, which predominantly uses the present tense, the following extract from a computer simulation-based FYPR uses a combination of present, present perfect and past tenses to present and interpret results. The extract also features hedging expressions to interpret the significance of results and the 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, as 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.

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 is covered in Part 4 of this document) allows you to limit the nature of claims you have made and make them more tentative.

This section emphasizes the unity of the main themes of your research project and summarises the contribution of your research. In this section, you should:

  • point out how your research has succeeded in addressing the major objectives of the research outlined in the Introduction  while taking care to only refer to  what you have researched
  • 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 in a concise manner 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 a computer simulation-based FYPR:

  • The wave should be outgoing. The only possiblesolution which matches this property is…
  • If metal is coated in the nanoresonator, high quality factor may be achieved

Note: In general, the incidence of tentative expressions using hedging expressions appears to be rather low in computer simulation-based FYPRs as they utilize mathematical formulae and computer programmes, leaving little room for accounting for the probability of results observed. In experiment-based FYPRs, the following examples of tentative language use have been noted.

  • 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 mostprobable 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 / numerous

Informal language

Big problem

Major problem/drawback/contentious issue

Vague expressions

Good report

A well-organised report
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 enhanceTiO3’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.

This study contributes extensively to our knowledge of nanofibres in the clothing industry.
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 experiment-based and computer simulation –based 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 beenresearched 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


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

In radial mode 1, increasing angular mode gives a large rise in the Q factor. This can be explained in Fig 5 (a).
In calculating Q factor in Matlab, complex frequency approach is used.


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.

In the TE mode, the calculated mode wavelengths and Q factors versus the angular mode number are plotted in Fig.6 (a)  and (b) respectively.


Present tense


Past tense

To explain significance of results, to interpret results

To summarise findings

The Q factor in both TM mode and TE mode decreases as the thickness of the outer layer increases.
When the thickness of outer layer increased from 0.1μm to 0.9μm, Q factor in TM mode decreased from 1.17 x 1012 to 1.57 x 109 and that in TE mode decreased from 7.48 x 1011 to 3.82 x 108.


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.

Table adapted from
Extracts chosen from student papers: Department of Applied Physics, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Note: The example extracts featuring different tenses have been taken from experiment-based and computer simulation-based FYPRs.  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 writing the word or term completely, 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 theTiO2 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 of 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 submission 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 of Dr. Xuming Zhang, Department of Applied Physics, HK Polytechnic University)

    1.  Format of figures of curves

      Using EXCEL or Origin to plot the curves is recommended.

      • 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 to 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 part 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 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
      Using EXCEL or the TABLE function in MS WORD is recommended.
      • 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 color.

Useful resources


Rose, S. Spinks, N. and and Canhoto A. I. (2015). Management Research: Applying the Principles. London: Routledge
Rahmandad, H. and Sterman, J.D. (2102) Reporting guidelines for Simulation Based Research in Social Sciences. System Dynamics Review, Volume 28, Issue 4, p. 396–411.


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