Writing a laboratory report in BY 322
Full marks can only be achieved by satisfying the requirements stated below.
Aim to hit the word count targets.
Formal laboratory report requirements:
Length: Three pages maximum (not including cover/title page/references/tables/figures). Typed
(12 point font) single-spaced. Note: this is written in single-spaced 12 point font.
Format: a. Title page
A. Abstract A brief description of what was conducted in the laboratory and what was concluded.
Target 100 words.
B. Introduction Provide a background description of the laboratory exercise. The introduction is designed to communicate to a reader who is not familiar with the laboratory experiment the purpose of the experiment. It is in the introduction that a hypothesis, the expected outcome of the experiment, is stated. Target 400 words.
C. Methods Briefly described the techniques that were used. Reference to the printed laboratory exercise handout can be made in order to save space. However, enough methodology should be stated so that a reader aware of the techniques could understand what was being done in the experiment. Target 200 words.
D. Results Convey to the reader what was observed in the experiment. To best communicate the results it is often best to use both written text and data presented in a tabular or graphic form. Do not present the same data in both tabular and figure form. The choice of using a table or graph depends on the data and on how it can be best represented. The use of written text is absolutely necessary in order to describe the results: the presentation of just a figure or graph in the results section will not allow a reader to fully understand what was observed. Make reference to the figures or tables in the results section (e.g. “The spread plate derived from the serial dilution 10 -1 produced too many colonies (Table 1) to establish a reliable estimate of CFU in the original sample.”). Use the past tense only in the Results section.
Target 300 words.
E. Discussion The discussion is where the importance and relevance of the results are explained.
For example, was the expected outcome of the experiment achieved? If so, of what use is this type of experiment for understanding microbiology? – not only in the laboratory setting but in the
“real world”. If the expected outcome was not achieved is there any reasonable explanation that can be proposed to justify the results? Good discussions should end with a summary that summarizes, in a logical manner, what was conducted in the laboratory and any conclusions made. Target 500 words.
References Use the library. Any literature sources should be listed here provided they are cited in the body of the laboratory report. Do not include web site references: they are ephemeral. Any lab report without a primary reference source will be penalized 10%; any lab report including a website as a reference will be penalized 20%.
Examples of correct reference citations:
Reference to textbook:
Prescott, L.M., Harley, J.P., Klein, D.A. 1999. Microbiology 4 th edition, WCB/McGraw-Hill,
Reference to journal article:
Carrick, H.J., Fahnenstiel, G.L., and Taylor, W.D. 1992. Growth and production of planktonic protozoa in Lake Michigan: In situ versus in vitro comparisons and importance to food web dynamics. Limnol. Oceanogr. 37: 1221-1235.
Coveney, M.F. and Wetzel, R.G. 1992. Effects of nutrients on specific growth rate of bacterioplankton in oligotrophic lake water cultures. Applied and Environmental
Microbiology 58: 150-156.
Leppard, G.G., Uricuoli, D., and Pick, F.R. 1987. Characterization of cyanobacterial picoplankton in Lake Ontario by transmission electron microscopy. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and
Aquatic Science 44: 2173-2177.
Sime-Ngando, T. 1995. Population dynamics of autotrophic picoplankton in relation to environmental factors in a productive lake. Aquatic Science 57: 91-105.
Example of correct citation in text:
Picoplankton are important members of natural aquatic food webs (Prescott et al.
1999, p. 862) that make significant contributions to the productivity of protozoa in eutrophic lakes (Sime-Nagano 1995) and the Great Lakes (Carrick et al. 1992,
Leppard et al. 1987). Since heterotrophic picoplankton, i.e. bacterioplankton, growth is tightly linked to nitrogen and phosphate concentrations in oligotrophic waters (Coveney and Wetzel 1992), we have chosen to test the hypothesis that nitrogen and phosphate also control the specific growth rate of autotrophic picoplankton, e.g. picocyanobacteria, in nutrient-poor lake water.
Note: provide the page number from a text book (only) where the information is found. Give the name of the first and second author (if there are two authors) but only the first author’s name in instances where there are three or more authors (substitute the other’s names with “et al.” (short form for et ali
, Latin for “and others”).
G. Table and/or Figures
Attach tables and figures. Number consecutively as referred to in the text. Provide a descriptive title or caption for tables and figures, respectively. If a table or figure is not referred to in the body of the text then it should not be included.
Use italics or underlining when writing the genus and species name of organisms. The genus can be abbreviated after the first instance in the text. e.g.:
The broth culture of Escherichia coli was maintained at 37 °C. Following inoculation of the agar plates, plates containing E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (a control species) were incubated at 20°, 37° and 45°C.
And of course, neatness counts.