When structuring a lab report, the method section is the component where the student or researcher provides the information on how the experiment was conducted. This section is a large factor in determining the validity of the main idea behind the research and the results obtained. Many people choose to write the lab methods before all other components as not only is this the most straight forward, but it is also the establishing element of the entire research. Hence, it is important to be clear about how to define lab methods.
Essentially the lab methods is the section where one is expected to clearly state the methods and procedures that were used for conducting the experiment. The instructions need to be clear enough that the experiment can be repeated by others. It is important to lay out all the sources used in experiments, the subjects involved, the preparations that took place and declaration of ethical considerations. It is also important that the instructions be written in chronological order, as in the order in which they were carried out not the order in which they were supposed to be carried out. This is also where one has the opportunity to apply and display basic research concepts, like being able to establish the dependant and independent variables and studying their cause and effect relationship.
As mentioned above, when determining how to define lab methods, the tone and style of writing are very significant. Lab methods are written with a straightforward approach and are often in passive voice. That is because with the use of passive voice the task is made the subject and hence given the emphasis and not the one carrying out the task.
Describing the lab procedure
Using your lab manual, handouts, and notes taken during the lab as a guide, describe in paragraph form the experimental procedure you followed. Be sure to include enough detail about the materials and methods you used so that someone else could repeat your procedure.
Tips on writing the Methods
- Describe the experimental procedure you followed in paragraph form.
- Review directions in the lab manual and your notes taken during the lab.
- Include enough detail for someone else to repeat your procedure.
- Describe the procedure clearly.
- Describe what you actually did, even though it may be different from the ideal procedure in the manual.
- Avoid putting results in the Methods.
- Write one paragraph for simple labs, multiple paragraphs for complex labs.