The less you are hurried, the more likely you are to do the experiment correctly and accurately document your findings. Also, invest some time to consider the best way to organize the data before you have to start recording it. If you can, create a table to account for the data; this will often work better than merely jotting down the results in a rushed fashion on a scrap of paper.
Record the data carefully to ensure that it is correct. You will be unable to trust your conclusions if you have erroneous data, and your readers will see you made an error if the other people in your group have "97 degrees, " and you have " Do everything in consultation with your lab partners. Frequently lab groups make one of two mistakes: Collaborate with your group members, even when the experiment is finished.
What trends did you observe? Was there evidence to support the hypothesis? Did all of you arrive at the same results? What kind of figure or image should you employ to represent your findings?
The whole group can work collaboratively to provide answers to these questions. Take your audience into consideration. You may think that audience is not important: True, but again think beyond the classroom context. If you write only with the instructor in mind, material that is crucial to a full understanding of your experiment may be omitted as you assume the instructor was already familiar with it.
Consequently, you might receive a lower grade as your TA will not be sure that you have adequately grasped all of the principles at work. Or, write towards yourself five years later after the reading and lectures from this course are not so fresh in your mind. What aspects would you retain, and what would you require to be more fully explained as a refresher? After you have finished these steps as you go through the experiment, you will be in a good position to draft a strong lab report.
For present purposes, we will consider the Introduction to comprise four basic elements: We will begin by addressing each element of the Introduction to explain what it covers and why it is significant. Then we will be able to develop a logical organization method for the section. Including the purpose otherwise known as the objective of the experiment frequently confuses the writers.
The largest misunderstanding is that the purpose is identical to the hypothesis. This is not completely accurate. We will address hypotheses shortly, but essentially, they contain some indication of what you expect your experiment to demonstrate. The purpose goes beyond that and engages more with what you expect to achieve through the experiment. In a professional context, the hypothesis may pertain to how cells react to certain types of genetic manipulation, yet the purpose of the experiment is to gain knowledge about potential cancer treatments.
Reports at the undergraduate level rarely have such a wide-ranging goal, yet you should still attempt to maintain a distinction between your hypothesis and your purpose. For example, in a solubility experiment, your hypothesis might address the relationship between temperature and the rate of solubility, yet the purpose is likely to gain knowledge regarding some specific scientific principle underlying the process of solubility.
To begin with, many individuals maintain that you should write down your working hypothesis before you begin the experiment or study. Frequently, beginning science students fail to do so and thus struggle to recall exactly which variables were involved or how the researches deemed them to be related. You will thank yourself later if you write down your hypothesis as you develop it. Regarding the form a hypothesis should have, it is a good idea to try to avoid being fancy or overly complicated — here the clarity is what is important, not an inventive style.
That is, explain that when term A alters, term B alters in this particular way. Audiences of scientific writing are seldom content with the notion that a relationship between two terms exists — rather, they wish to know what is entailed by that relationship.
A suitable hypotheses should have both an independent as well as a dependent variable. The independent variable is what you alter to test the reaction; the dependent variable is what changes as a result of your alterations. In the example above, the independent variable is the temperature; the dependent variable is the solubility rate.
Both should be used in your hypothesis. You are required to contribute more than simply relating to your readers what your hypothesis is; you are also required to persuade them that this was a reasonable hypothesis, given the circumstances.
If you suggest that a particular relationship exists between the independent and the dependent variable, what made you believe your estimation might be supported by evidence? However, you can also motivate your hypothesis by incorporating logic or your own observations. If you are attempting to discern which solutes will dissolve more quickly, you might recall that some solids are meant to dissolve in hot water e.
Alternatively, you can consider if you have noticed sugar dissolving more quickly in a glass of iced tea or a cup of coffee. Even such common, outside of the lab observations can help you establish your hypothesis as a reasonable one. This component of the Introduction makes clear to your reader how you are building on the work of other scientists. If you imagine the scientific community are participating in a series of conversations addressing various topics, you will see that the relevant background information will indicate to your reader which conversation you want to engage with.
Broadly speaking, the reasons students employ the background differs to some degree from authors writing journal articles. Students, on the other hand, are writing with a much more narrow audience of peers in the course or their lab instructors.
Consequently, it is necessary for students to make clear their understanding of the context for the experiment or study they have completed. For instance, if your instructor has been discussing polarity during class, and you are undertaking a solubility experiment, you might attempt to connect the polarity of a solid to its relative solubility in certain solvents.
In any case, both undergraduates as well as professional researchers must make a clear connection between the background material and their own work. After you have articulated your purpose, it should be easier to move from the general purpose to relevant material pertaining to the subject to your hypothesis.
In a condensed form an Introduction section might resemble this: According to Whitecoat and Labrat , the molecules increase speed when subjected to higher temperatures Note, these are guidelines rather than firm exhortations.
The example above simply provides an sample of a common way to organize the material. We will review the purpose as we articulated it above: In the sciences, it is not enough to simply design and undertake an experiment. Others must be able to verify your findings, so the experiment must be reproducible so far as other researchers could follow the same methodology and arrive at the same or similar results.
Here is a concrete example which demonstrates how important reproducibility is. In physicists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman stated that they had discovered "cold fusion" which is a way of creating excess heat and power without the need for nuclear radiation that goes along with "hot fusion.
Yet when other scientists attempted to duplicate the experiment, they arrived at different results, and consequently many dismissed the conclusion as unjustified or ever worse, as a hoax. Even in the present day, the viability of cold fusion is still a subject of debate within the scientific community, although an increasing number of researchers admit that it is a possibility.
Thus, when you compose your Methods section, bare in mind that you must describe your experiment thoroughly enough that others would be able to reduplicate it exactly. Keeping these aims in mind, we will consider how to compose a strong Methods section regarding content, structure, and style. Occasionally, the most difficult aspect of writing this component is not what you should discuss, but what you should not discuss.
Writers frequently wish to include the results of their experiment as they have measured and recorded these throughout the experiment. Yet this data should be reserved for the Results section. In the Methods section you can note that you recorded the results, or how you documented the results for example, in a table , but you should refrain from writing what the results were.
In this part, you are simply articulating how you proceeded to test your hypothesis. As you work through a draft of this section, ask yourself the following questions:. How much detail should be included? Be exact in giving details, but make sure they are relevant. If that is a yes, report as many facts as necessary to ensure that other scientists can duplicate it.
The most important detail is measurement, and you should always specify, for example, time elapsed, temperature, mass, volume, etc. Make sure that as you are conveying your actions during the experiment, you articulate your reasons for the protocol you developed.
For example, if you capped a test tube immediately after adding a solute to a solvent, why did you do that? In a professional context, writers provide their reasons as a means to explain their thought process to potential detractors. On the one hand, naturally, that is your impetus for discussing protocol, as well. On the other hand, since pragmatically speaking you are also writing for your teacher who is seeking to evaluate how well you understand the principles of the experiment , articulating the rationale demonstrates that you comprehend the reasons for conducting the experiment in that way and that you are not just following instructions.
Critical thinking is vital, which is why robots do not make very good scientists. The majority of experiments will include some control, which is a way of comparing results of the experiment.
Sometimes you will require more than one control, depending on the number of hypotheses you wish to test. The control is identical to the other items you are testing, except that you do not manipulate the independent variable, which is the condition you are altering to check the effect on the dependent variable. For instance, if you are testing solubility rates at increased temperatures, your control would be a solution that you did not heat at all; this way, you will see how quickly the solute dissolves "naturally.
Describe the control in the Methods section. Two things are particularly crucial in writing about the control: The organization is particularly vital in the Methods section of a lab report as readers must fully comprehend your experimental procedure.
Frequently writers are surprised by the challenges to convey what they did during the experiment, as after all, they are only reporting an event. With Grademiners, you can be sure that your most time-consuming labs are in good hands.
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