Structure

The typical stages in the legend in a short report are shown below.

Click on each stage to see an example.

Stage 1

Explanation of how the data in the figure/table were obtained. You need to describe the conditions under which the data were obtained and, in general, how the experiment was performed.

Stage 2 (optional)

Summary of experimental results (but don't repeat what is in the discussion or in the tables and/or figures)

Read a student account of the experimental conditions for the experiment entitled "Varying the Dietary Intake of Cholesterol May Cause Changes in Plasma Cholesterol Concentration in Middle-Aged Subjects".

Materials and Method

Table 1. The Reaction Mixture

This assay detects both free cholesterol and cholesterol esters. Essential enzymes for this assay are cholesterol esterase, cholesterol oxidase, and peroxidase. The reaction mixture was made up by dissolving the Tris in 85ml of water adding 1M HCl to a pH of 7.7 then adding the ingredients 2-5. Solutions 6-8 were collected and added to the big Tris buffer mixture, with the volume then being made up to 100ml with water, and stored at 4°C.

Table 2. The Subjects

Eight subjects were recruited to participate in this experiment. In weeks 0, 6 and 12, they each had a finger pricked and ˜300µl of blood was collected, centrifuged at 12,000g for 1 min, and the plasma removed and frozen at -20°C until assayed.

High Cholesterol Diet 50µl of each plasma sample had 1ml of reaction mixture added to it. After 10 min the absorbance was read at 500nm using a cuvette of reaction mixture as a blank.

Low Cholesterol Diet 50µl of each plasma sample, had 1ml of reaction mixture added to it. After 10 min, the absorbance was read at 500nm using a cuvette of rea ction mixture as a blank.

Examine the checklist (DO's and DON'Ts) for creating an appropriate legend for this experiment. Decide whether each item is something the student writer should have done or has done successfully (DO) or something the writer should not have done (DON'T).

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1. Use the heading "Materials and Methods"

Do | Don´t

2. State the final concentration of the components of the reaction mixture.

Do | Don´t

3. Table or describe the exact amounts (volumes and weights) of the components of the reaction mixture.

Do | Don´t

4. Describe how to make up the reaction mixture.

Do | Don´t

5. State the number, age range and sex of subjects.

Do | Don´t

6. Give the age of each subject

Do | Don´t

7. Give the exact levels of cholesterol for each subject at the beginning and end of the experiment.

Do | Don´t

8. Describe how samples were taken from subjects and stored.

Do | Don´t

9. State when cholesterol samples were taken.

Do | Don´t

10. Show the change in cholesterol for each individual subject over time.

Do | Don´t

11. Show the change in cholesterol for each group as a whole (ie: those on a high cholesterol diet and those on a low cholesterol diet).

Do | Don´t

12. Mention the length of incubation.

Do | Don´t

13. Mention the temperature and pH at which the experiment was carried out

Do | Don´t

14. Mention the wavelength when the absorbance readings were taken.

Do | Don´t

15. Repeat the legend if necessary.

Do | Don´t

This student writer tried to write the the methods section of the report in a more traditional way and therefore, included a lot of unnecessary detail about the procedure. The first table and its legend were unnecessary although the writer needed to include the final concentration of the reaction mixture in the legend for the figures. The second table was also unnecessary as was most of the procedure about how samples were taken. The figures provided detailed information about each subject which should have been grouped. The legend need not have been repeated for the second figure.

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