Lab Bacterial Transformation
Before every lab, think about the following questions (adapted from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/scientific-reports/):
What are we going to do in this lab? (That is, what’s the procedure?)
Why are we going to do it that way?
What are we hoping to learn from this experiment?
Why would we benefit from this knowledge?
What is the “big picture” of this lab?
Answering these questions will lead you to a more complete understanding of the experiment, and this “big picture” will in turn help you write a successful lab report.
During the lab, take many notes and pictures (you can use your smart phones!)
Please make note that this type of report uses the passive voice. Thus, avoid the use of pronouns when you report procedures or results. Example: “One drop of colorant was added” instead of “I added one drop of colorant”.
All lab reports should be presented in the following format:
LABORATORY # (follow the sequence of laboratories) and TITLE
DATE: Date in which the experiment was performed
AUTHOR: (your name)
INTRODUCTION: Describe the general background information about the laboratory topic and the significance/relevance of studying this topic. Define important terms and why they are important. Use class notes, the lab manual textbook, and other sources (which you must cite!).
OBJECTIVES: State bullet point reasons as to why you are doing this lab. It should answer the questions “what are we trying to demonstrate/produce in this lab?” and “what are we trying to learn and determine in this lab?” The sentences should start with: “To…” (Ex. “To learn how to use a microscope). If there are multiple procedures for this lab, there should be multiple objectives. Also, one procedure can have more than one objective.
HYPOTHESIS: An informed guess of what you think will happen at the end of the experiment and why. [applicable only to labs with experiments]
MATERIALS: List all the equipment, glass material, instruments, chemical solutions, biological samples, etc. that you used during the exercise.
METHODS: Explain step-by-step how the experiment took place. This section should be written in past tense. This section should not be a list, but instead a paragraph of how you carried out the experiment.
RESULTS: This is where the data and findings of your experiments are written. State and describe what you observed in the experiment and all of your findings. Your data can be divided by subheadings to help you organize your findings. Any microscopic images can be included in this section. Sometimes, your data can be presented in a chart and/or a graph. Include titles and the axis labels in all cases. Make sure not to discuss your results in this section (do not describe WHY you found what you found). Some of the QUESTIONS found in the lab manual will guide you in writing this section. The instructor will indicate what questions in the lab manual should be answered.
DISCUSSION: In this section, you discuss your findings, potential reasons behind them, and what they mean. This is an INTERPRETATION of what your wrote in your RESULTS section. This part will also include SOURCES OF ERROR. Occasionally, experiments do not work as planned. If this is the case, find an explanation of what went wrong or provide a list of possible factors that altered the results. Some of the QUESTIONS found in the lab manual will guide you in writing this section as well. The instructor will indicate what questions in the lab manual should be answered.
CONCLUSION: What are you concluding from your findings? What does it mean in terms of the “big picture”? State whether the hypothesis is correct.
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