Mull Wood Report Guidance Notes and Marking Criteria

Mull Wood Report Guidance Notes and Marking Criteria (Ecology 4209NATSCI)

Below you will find a set of guidance notes for the Mull Wood report. You should look to adhere to these guidelines when writing your report as you will be marked against them using the marking criteria outlines in the table at the end.

Please be aware that LJMU considers plagiarism a serious offence! Using the phrasing of other authors (including that of fellow students) is considered plagiarism and will be reported accordingly. To detect plagiarism, you need to submit your report first to Turnitin, a plagiarism check software (see specific column in Canvas Grades), before you submit the final report to the respective column in Canvas. Anything above 30% similarity to other documents will be considered plagiarism!


  • Title
  • Introduction
    • Introducing the topic of your report and summarising previous work on this topic, then going on to state the aim, research questions and predictions (hypotheses) of your study (see the inverted triangle idea in the fundamentals lecture)
  • Methods
    • Written in past tense in paragraphs and should be detailed enough that someone else could read it and repeat your study. Start off by explaining your study design (comparing the two sites within one woodland), then explain how you collected your data (subheadings may be useful here). Don’t forget to include details such as sample sizes (i.e. how many measurements you took at each site). Do not refer to your group, class, the module – but keep to scientific writing style. Write the entire report in 3rd person perspective.
  • Results
    • Include your processed results in the form of figures and tables ensuring that you cross-reference them with in-text citations. Tables and figures should be correctly labelled by figure or table captions.
    • Don’t present raw data.
    • Describe your results in words, with reference to your figures and tables e.g. ‘mean light intensity was higher in the area with Rhododendron than in the area without Rhododendron (figure 1)’. Do not discuss the data in your results section.
    • Don’t repeat the same results in figures and tables
    • Suitable statistical analysis of data should be undertaken taking consideration of normality of data. Raw statistical outputs should not be put in your results section, rather should be presented in the text as detailed in Fundamentals (4201NATSCI).Do not sure the term ‘significantly different’ if you have not undertaken statistics to determine this’.
    • Forest diagrams: tree species should be identified and both common and Latin (scientific) names provided. Drawings should be neat and accurate and show the forest structure. Scale bars should be provided. Scan these and include them in your e-document.
  • Discussion
    • Start with a brief summary of your main findings, then interpret your findings and discuss them in the context of previous studies and in relation to other elements of your data (e.g. comparing abiotic with biotic results)
    • Include comments about the nature conservation implications of Rhododendron based on your data and information from text books and scientific journals. Avoid overuse of web-references which are not peer reviewed.
  • References
    • Remember, any reference in your reference list needs to be cited in the text of your report and vice versa – you covered how to do this in Tutorial 2 so look up your notes and check you are getting it right. Reports will be marked down for little or no reference to scientific literature.

Further details

  • Word-count guidance: The word limit is flexible, but a good report will generally be in the region of 1500-2000 words.
  • Use scientific writing style in passive voice, not referring to the student groups, modules or course, but as a scientific study. Active voice is allowed but should be reasonably mature. NOT like: ‘as part of the L4 ecology module we went to a forest and collected bugs, there were loads.’
  • Submit soft copy reports online onto CANVAS by Friday the 26th February 2021, 23:59 pm at the latest.
  • This module is linked to 4201NATSCI (Fundamentals of Scientific Research) where you will receive the necessary information on how to carry out the statistical analysis.
  • Feedback can be obtained during Tutorial 5 (Mull Wood report writing and statistics) in week 19, as well as during the Progress Review Meeting (Tutorial 7) in week 21
  • Feedback involves giving suggestions for future improvement. You will have to write similar reports in the future so make sure you do your best to take feedback on board!
  • Reports will be marked with reference to, i.e. adherence to, the guidance notes above and using the marking criteria and qualitative descriptions below:

Overall Mark (%)……………………

(Refer to attached qualitative assessment guidelines for essays and reports to assist categorisation of the different dissertation components)