Writing a modelling report

Models are designed to address particular problems in specific situations. So, models must be capable of being evaluated and used by others, including non-mathematicians.

Information needs to be communicated clearly and fully.

Reports on mathematical models vary in style and detail, but they should always contain information that gives a complete picture of what the modelling has achieved.


Report writing checklist

A checklist for a good report may include:

  • Describing the real-world problem being addressed.
  • Specifying the resulting mathematical questions precisely.
  • Listing all assumptions and their justification.
  • Indicating sources of imported information (for example, websites).
  • Explaining how numerical values used in calculations were decided on.
  • Showing and justifying all mathematical working.
  • Setting out all mathematical working, graphs, tables, etc.
  • Interpreting mathematical results in terms of the real-world problem.
  • Evaluating the result. Does your answer make sense? Does it help to answer the problem?
  • Dealing with refinements to the original problem.
  • Qualifying the solution.
  • Recommending the solutions arising from the work. What further work is needed?

In practice, several of these activities can occur at the same time.

For example, obtaining a mathematical result, interpreting it, and evaluating its correctness or relevance, are aspects that are often dealt with together. 


Report summary checklist

Writing reports is not easy. It takes a great deal of practice to produce reports of value.

Students should be guided to practice writing reports before the challenge.

The mathematics and the modelling should not be the focus of the report. The mathematics and modelling are the means to an end.

The focus of the report should be a solution to the real-world problem.

The 2016 IM2C required participants to submit a one-page summary sheet and a solution of up to 20 pages. A well-written summary is vital. Consider it a direct statement to the people who needed to solve the real-world problem.

The summary should:

  • state the problem
  • state the assumptions made
  • give a brief description of the mathematics used
  • provide practical suggestions to solve the real-world problem.

The summary might also discuss what might have been done to develop the solution further on another occasion.