Scientific Language

In the legend, you should use language which keeps the focus on the things you used in your experiment and what you did with them. You should also make the sequence of events clear so that the information is ordered in a logical way.

Click on the highlighted text for an explanation. The example legend describes how the activity of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase was measured

Liver homogenates (0.1g wet weight/ml prepared in 50 mM Tris, pH 7.5, 1 mM DTT) were assayed in 0.4 M glycine pH 9.5, containing 3 mM NAD and 5 mM ethanol.

The assay contained 2 mg liver tissue/ml reaction mixture.

The progress of the reaction was monitored by the increase in absorbance at 340 nm over a 5 minute time period and the reaction rate calculated using the extinction coefficient for NADH at 340 nm, ε = 6.2 mM-1 cm-1.

In the legend, you need to use the PAST tense and the PASSIVE structure or VOICE.

You should use the past tense as you are describing how you carried out the experiment at a time in the past. You should focus on the things you used in your experiment and what you did with them not on yourself. This type of focus requires a special structure of the verb which we call the PASSIVE VOICE.

Active

What you did

I assayed

liver homogenates (0.1g wet weight/ml prepared in 50 mM Tris, pH 7.5, 1 mM DTT)

Passive

What was done by you

Liver homogenates (0.1g wet weight/ml prepared in 50 mM Tris, pH 7.5, 1 mM DTT)

were assayed

Click on the highlighted text for more explanation

Liver homogenates (0.1g wet weight/ml prepared in 50 mM Tris, pH 7.5, 1 mM DTT) were assayed in 0.4 M glycine pH 9.5, containing 3 mM NAD and 5 mM ethanol. The assay contained 2 mg liver tissue/ml reaction mixture. The progress of the reaction was monitored by the increase in absorbance at 340 nm over a 5 minute time period and the reaction rate calculated using the extinction coefficient for NADH at 340 nm, Ε = 6.2 mM-1 cm-1.

In this legend from a report on measuring the rate of muscle glycogen consumption during exercise, choose the correct tense from the pull-down menus. Make sure the subject and verb agree and that you have chosen active or passive voice correctly. When you have finished click the Submit button to compare the correct version with your own.

Muscle biopsy samples (~100 mg, frozen in liquid N2) with 1 M KOH (0.5 g/ml) for 20 min at 100oC. After cooling, glycogen with ethanol (60% v/v). The pellet by centrifugation (3,000 g for 5 min) and then in 1.0 ml phosphate buffer (0.15 M pH 7.4). Aliquots of this solution in 10 with Iodine Reagent (0.1% w/v iodine, 100 mM KI and 50 mM CaCl2). After 5 min at RT the glycogen:iodine complex formed spectrophotometrically at 460 nm and to a standard curve (0-2 mg glycogen/ml final assay volume).

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