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BIOC29 Introductory Mycology

This guide will help students in the course BIOC29 to find relevant resources including books, articles, and websites to support their lab report assignment.

Writing a Lab Report Tips

Data, Figures & Tables

IMRAD framework

Lab report formats vary slightly among scientific disciplines, but all are based on the IMRAD outline: introduction, materials and methods, results, and discussion.

The purpose of each section dictates what information to include, regardless of the specialty being written for.

Helpful Tip: It is usually easiest to write the methods and results sections first, followed by the discussion and introduction. Title and abstract (if required) should be written last.

Section Purpose Content & Characteristics
T - Title

Describes the content of the report

Allows scientists to locate research of interest when searching databases

Clear, specific, and accurate

Loaded with keywords drawn from the body of the report

A - Abstract

Summarizes the report

Helps researchers decide whether to read the entire paper

One paragraph (200-250 words)

2-3 sentences for each section, summarizing key data and ideas

A complete synopsis, not a teaser (results and discussion must be included)

Section Purpose Content & Characteristics
I - Introduction

Gives background information needed to understand the current research, tracing the development of existing knowledge

Places the new experiments within the context of the field

Identifies gaps in existing knowledge and shows how the present research will fill them

States the specific objectives of the work

Reviews relevant literature, including properly formatted citations

Explains why the study was conducted, and what question it was designed to answer

Briefly describes approach to the problem

Outlines hypothesis(es) to be tested, and predicted results

Written in a mixture of present tense (for generally accepted truths) and past tense (when referencing specific research

Answer:

  • What is the purpose and relevance of your lab work?
  • What background and theories are in play?
M - Methods/Materials

Explains how the experiments were conducted

Provides enough detail that another scientist could repeat the experiment

Gives readers the information they need to evaluate the validity of results and conclusions

Written in paragraph format

Materials are mentioned while describing methods, never listed separately

Describes the purpose of each procedure, as well as necessary steps  Omits details that are common knowledge or would not impact the results

Written in past tense (recounts what was done, rather than giving instructions)

Answer:

  • What did you use in the lab?
  • How did you complete the work?
R - Results

Describes the outcomes of the experiments

Draws attention to key findings and relationships

Allows readers to form their own conclusions based on the data

Straightforward reporting of observations and calculations

Does not include commentary or interpretation

Detailed data is presented in tables and figures, which are referenced in the text

Written portion should summarize and emphasize, not repeat details shown in the visuals

Written in past tense

Answer:

  • What did you find out from the lab work?
a  and  
D - Discussion

Interprets the results and explains their significance

Places the new data in the context of the field

Identifies limitations of the study and suggests next steps

References key data, describing its implications

Identifies any errors made during the experiment and their impacts

Discusses any shortcomings of the protocols or experimental designs

Draws conclusions

Identifies questions that could not be answered

Cites relevant literature

Written in past, present, and future tense, as appropriate

Answer:

  • What do the results mean?
  • What should the next research focus be?

The above information is adapted from

Title Clever v. Descriptive

The title of the experiment should use a descriptive phrase for the title:

  • should be informative
  • may describe major results
  • descriptive is better than clever

For example:

Too hot to handle: temperature and photosynthesis (clever)

vs. 

Effects of temperature on photosynthesis in aquatic plants (descriptive)

Activity: Key Parts of a Lab Report

3 minutes quick read, 2 minutes to share

In pairs, review the 8 essential parts to a lab report document or IMRAD framework, and pick one section to review:

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction 
  3. Methods 
  4. Results 
  5. Discussion 
  6. Conclusion 

Share in the Padlet:

  • 1 key takeaway to consider
  • 1 question you should consider answering OR what makes this section different from others?

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