Checklist for Writing the Methods

Writing the methods should not be too difficult providing you have kept detailed and accurate notes in your lab book.

  1. Overview materials and methods (optional)
    Do you need to report this stage for your experiment?
    What materials were used?
    What known procedure was followed?

  2. Sampling and sample preparation
    How were samples taken from subjects?
    How were samples handled and prepared for the experimental testing?
    How were samples replicated?
    What masses, volumes, incubation times and concentrations were used?

  3. Experimental procedure (s) i.e. sample testing
    What hypotheses/ questions were being tested?
    What procedures were used?
    How were data collected?
    How were controls, treatments, or variables measured?
    How were data analysed?

Read over your draft methods and check:

Are you using past tense and passive voice?

Are you using scientific language and technical terms correctly?

Are you describing your methods in appropriate detail?

Have you had another person read your writing and give you feedback?

Recommended texts and sites for terminology and nomenclature:

Bergey's Manual Trust (2007). Bergey's Manual, 2nd edn. New York: Springer-Verlag. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2006).
Instructions for Authors. (Available:

Lawrence, E. (1995). Henderson’s Dictionary of Biological Terms, 11th edn. Wiley.

Society for General Microbiology (2007).Instructions for Authors’.

Download and print the Checklist for Writing the Methods

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