Research Reports and STAA

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Proposal for elevating ORD Research Reports for Science and Technological Achievement Awards (STAA)

1. ORD Research Reports shall be eligible for awards.

What is an ORD Research Report?

(from EPA/600/K-95/002, August 1995 aka the Handbook)

The research report is a book-length presentation of the best of EPA/ORD’s research findings. These reports are normally the most authoritative results of a research project on a critical area of interest in which the Agency is involved.


Present research reports in classic textbook style—clear, concise prose. Follow “Report Specifications” in Appendix B (of the Handbook).


A research report will fit into one of two broad categories: investigative or expository.

In a standard investigative report, results and conclusions, the evidence to support them, and the interpretation of that evidence are the most important inclusions. The background of the project and the methods used should support the results and recommendations. Structure the body of an investigative report as follows:

A. Introduction

B. Conclusions

C. Recommendations

D. Methods and materials

E. Results and discussion

F. References

In the introduction, focus on the hypothesis or problem that the study tests. Place the conclusions and recommendations before other matter in the body of an investigative report because this allows the reader ready access to the full scope of the project. Methods, results, and discussion may be interwoven or addressed separately, as logic dictates.

An expository report sheds additional light on a topic or an area of high interest about which information is lacking. It is more informal and discursive in nature than an investigative report in the sense that its structure is not bound by the scientific method. Its organization is therefore looser than that of the investigative report; however, where possible, use the same format elements as the investigative report.

Weight the text of a research report in favor of explanatory copy, and do not include large volumes of backup and unedited data, repeatedly used figures of government or other organizational forms, or verbatim reprints from or transcripts of other printed information sources (e.g., the Federal Register). These inclusions would detract from the classic format of the book, run up the cost excessively, and are more appropriately referenced as secondary sources than printed. Footnote or reference all background materials where appropriate to enable the reader to locate them in the library, through NTIS, or through the appropriate information databases.

The effective use of appropriate referencing and footnoting techniques is absolutely necessary to increase the credibility of the document and fulfill the purpose of the presentation. Careful documentation shows that a research project has been thoroughly investigated. Referencing systems vary among scientific disciplines. Whatever system you use, be consistent and make each reference complete.

See the Handbook for guidance on printing.


DO WE NEED TO UPDATE ANY OF THIS GUIDANCE? (STEVE K) Comment: Is this title a little misleading; it explains what an ORD Research Report is, but doesn't say anything about awards. (Don B.)

2. ORD Research Reports shall be peer reviewed.

The principle investigator will initiate the review process. The Branch Chief or Division Science Director will monitor the peer review process of the manuscript. A potential Research Report will need to have a minimum 2 external reviewers and 1 editorial review. The external reviewers will have the option to remain anonymous. The reviewers will be given the definition of an ORD Research Report and asked whether the manuscript meets the standard "as is", "with minor modification", "with major modification", or would be better published in another form of EPA report: e.g., Project Report, User Guide, Internal Report, etc.

3. ORD Research Reports shall be eligible for STAA.

The Research Report will be subjected to the same evaluation guidelines as journal articles and book chapters:

STAA nomination procedures 2008

  • The extent to which the work reported in the nominated paper resulted in either new or significantly revised knowledge. The accomplishment should represent an important advancement of scientific knowledge or technology relevant to environmental issues.
  • The degree to which the accomplishment is a product of the originality, creativeness, initiative, and problem-solving ability of the researchers as well as the level of effort required to produce the results.
  • The extent to which environmental protection has been strengthened or improved, whether of local, national, or international importance.
  • The extent of the beneficial impact of the accomplishment and the degree to which the accomplishment has been favorably recognized from outside EPA.
  • The nature and extent of peer review, including stature and quality of the peer-reviewed journal or the publisher of a book for a review chapter published therein.

The nomination will need to demonstrate impact.

Impact of a Research Report may be demonstrated by documenting citations (e.g., Google Scholar) and web-downloads.

[Comments: a research report that has already had a journal publication (part of the research written up in the report) that was entered into the STAA process should not be eligible for an STAA award again. Sometimes, it seems, as if research reports are compilations or integrations of research that has been published. This would pare down the lists of research reports to those, which are entities in themselves and being new products would be eligible for the STAA process. (Don B.)]

[I agree with the gist of your comment. If an author first writes a Research Report, and then publishes it as a journal article, then it makes sense to nominate the journal article, and make the Research Report available as supporting material. Another example, if the author writes a Research Report, and publishes three journal articles from it, then the author(s) could submit the three journal articles separately to STAA. However, if the Research Report is truly a synthesis that stands on its own as a creative contribution, even though the author has submitted a journal article on one aspect of the work to STAA, I would reserve the option to the author to submit the full Research Report. I am not concerned with flooding the SAB with Research Reports. We are proposing an imposing process for the publishing of research reports (peer review and acceptance, quality of formatting, etc) that will greatly limit the number actually produced in a year. Steve K]

4. Example ORD Research Reports and their "mock" nomination forms.

Flotemersch, J., et al., 2006. Concepts and Approaches for the Bioassessment of Non-wadeable Streams and Rivers,EPA/600/R-06/127. Nomination form.

Kraemer, S.R., et al., 2007. Working with WhAEM2000: Capture Zone Delineation for a City Wellfield in a Valley Fill Glacial Outwash Aquifer Supporting Wellhead Protection. EPA/600/R-05/151. Nomination form.

Weinberg, H.S., S.W. Krasner, S.D. Richardson, and A.D. Thruston, Jr. 2002. The Occurrence of Disinfection By-Products (DBPs) of Health Concern in Drinking Water: Results of a Nationwide DBP Occurrence Study, EPA/600/R-02/068. Nomination form.

5. ORD Research Reports shall be highly regarded under the TQB process [Don B].

[Don, this was one of the recommendations included in our initial statement, and it was accepted in principle by Larry Reiter et al. I do not think we need to include it here. Our charge from Reiter is to detail out the STAA process. If we succeed with that, the rest should fall in line. My opinion. Steve K]