Structure

The methods should give enough detail so that someone else can duplicate your experiment. However, they should not be as detailed as the instructions in your laboratory notes. Remember not to comment on your observations or measurements in the methods stage. You should do this in the results stage. The information you provide should typically answer the following questions:

  1. What materials did you use?
  2. What methods did you use?

In the early undergraduate years, you may be given a list of instructions for carrying out your experiment in your laboratory notes. For example:

  1. Advance the left-hand switch on the spectrophotometer to the middle position.
  2. Advance the fine adjustment handle in steps of three divisions.
  3. Stop when the clear solution gives a zero reading.
In later years, you will be expected to construct your own instructions or flow chart and write out the procedure for your experiments yourself in your workbook. Although the instructions or flow chart can help you to write up the methods stage, they are usually too detailed for what you will eventually write in your methods section. So don't just copy the list of instructions in your laboratory notes and simply change the language structures. You will have to decide what the key information is for carrying out the methods and use this in writing up your methods stage.
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