Report Guide

Each project requires a Project Report of no more than five pages plus no more than a two page appendix for the references and bibliography. This report comprises a concise summary of the project using a scientific writing style, selecting only what is important and stating it in a concise way. Graphs, diagrams and charts may be included, but not the raw data or observations. The report should be available with the display during the judging process. (For those selected to move on to CWSF, the report is submitted online as a PDF document, as part of the registration process.)


A complete Project Report includes the following subtitles and sections:

  1. Background: how the project came to be.
  2. Purpose: why the project was conducted and what was hoped to be achieved.
  3. Hypothesis: proposition to be tested, if applicable.
  4. Procedure: a brief outline of the materials and methods used.
  5. Results or Observations: a summary of the results of the experiment, innovation or study.
  6. Conclusions: what can be concluded from the results and why it is important.
  7. Earlier Work: If an earlier version of the project was submitted in a previous year, the finalist must highlight the changes and additional work done.
  8. Acknowledgments: recognition of those individuals, institutions and businesses that provided significant assistance in the form of guidance, materials, financial support and/or facilities for this work.
  9. References: Detailed references are mandatory for any specific literature referred to in the text of the report. Key sources used in the development of the project must be referred to in the text and listed in an appendix (“References”), using a format consistent with that accepted in the scientific peer-reviewed literature. Author, title, source publication, volume, date and page numbers must be given. Any use of quotations from references must be clearly identified.
  10. Bibliography: Significant sources consulted but not specifically referred to in the report must be mentioned (volumes, articles, audio-visuals, documents, web sites with dates of access, interviews, etc.).

Some variation is permitted for innovation and study projects that do not follow an experimental protocol.


The format of the report will be a maximum of five letter-sized (8.5 x 11 inches) pages printed on white paper (as well as submitted as a PDF file for those going to CWSF). An appendix beyond the five-page limit is allowed, containing the References and Bibliography. Any additional material will be discarded and will not be distributed to judges. Text shall be in 12-point Times, Arial or equivalent type, double-spaced with margins of 1 inch (2.5 cm) all around. Page 1 shall have the project title and finalist name(s) at the top. A footer in 8-point type is required on each page containing the date, finalist name(s) and project title as well as the page number.

Here is an example:

“15 April 2010 – Jane Doe: The Generic Project – Page 1 of 5”


As is the case with manuscripts submitted for publication in the scientific literature, project reports must be written in good, grammatical English. Composition style, appropriate vocabulary, correct verb tense use, agreement of verbs and their subject nouns in number, and correct punctuation all contribute to the acceptability of the report. Indeed, lack of attention to these writing requirements for project reports may result in the downgrading of the project.


Respectable scientific work for international consumption is recorded using Système international (SI) units, which must be used throughout. Correct abbreviations for units must be used.

Measurements and uncertainty

Most physical measurements have uncertainty. Students should be aware of the concepts of accuracy, precision and uncertainty in measurements, and the methods scientists use to represent them. Data are expected to have the correct number of significant figures, and graphs should have appropriate error bars.

Graphs, Charts and Maps

Captions, labels on axes and legends must be accurate and legible.

The ability to communicate scientific work clearly and succinctly is an important skill; therefore, the five-page limit is strictly adhered to, regardless of the type or complexity of the project.

It is strongly recommended that someone from your regional organization check each project report for length, clarity, completeness and compliance with the formatting requirements.

(For CWSF participants: A copy of the Project Report is provided to each CWSF judge before he/she sees the project or interviews the finalist(s). Not only does the report account for 10 percent of the project evaluation, it is the first encounter a judge has with the project. A concise, well-written report that is free of spelling and grammatical errors makes a good first impression.)

Complete details of the elements and requirements of the Project Report may be found in Youth Science Canada policy, CWSF Project Report.

Saving the report as a PDF (For CWSF Participants only)

The Project Report is submitted electronically as part of the online CWSF registration process (this is NOT required for HSTE level). It must first be saved as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, which preserves the appearance of your document regardless of which computer it is viewed on.

Please note: PDF is the only acceptable format for Project Reports.

PDF documents can be made from any document created in Microsoft Word, Works, Publisher, WordPerfect, Pages or any other application you would use to write a report. There are many different ways to create a PDF file from your report document. Here are a few:

  • Use Adobe Acrobat Professional, available for Windows and Macintosh.
  • Open the document and select Print > Save as PDF on any Macintosh computer running Mac OS X.
  • Download the free CutePDF Writer (Windows only) and use it to convert your file.
  • Go to Adobe and click “Try it for Free” to sign up and create up to five Adobe PDF files for free.
  • Enter “convert to PDF” into your favourite search engine. You’ll find several other free offers for online conversion services.
  • Get the local computer expert to do it for you. Your region should be able to help you with this process.