Biology Report Writing
One of the major goals of the laboratory section of this course is to develop scientific writing skills. Students are required to write three (3) formal laboratory reports. These formal reports should follow the format of primary research papers found in scientific journals. This handout is a guideline describing the required structure for a formal report with the rubric for grading (Table 1). Table 1: This is the general rubric used for evaluating formal laboratory reports based on the guidelines explained below. A detailed rubric follows the guidelines (Table 2). Item Percentage Value Title 5 Abstract 15 Introduction 15 Methods 15 Results 15 Discussion 15 Literature Cited 10 Formatting 10 Total 100 Title
• The title must be descriptive and informative. You can try to attract the reader’s attention, but this can often result in a misleading statement. In comparing the two titles below, the first certainly grabs the reader’s attention, but is the ocean really boiling? The second title is more descriptive, informative, and accurate.
o “Boiling Sea Food: The Effects of Temperature and Salinity on the Mass Mortality of Pisaster ochraceus Along the California Coastline.”
o “Increased Ocean Temperature May Result in Mass Mortality of Pisaster ochraceus Along the California Coastline.”
• The title should also contain the major result, specifically whether or not there is a relationship between the independent and dependent variables (or two independent variables). The second title clearly states that an increase in ocean temperature may result in mass mortality. The first title vaguely describes some effect of temperature and salinity on mass mortality.
• Finally, the title should identify the focus species, if applicable. In both titles, the species is clearly identified.
• Below the title should be the author’s name, their institution, and their institution’s address. • “García, S., Whittier College, Whittier, California 90608”
Abstract An abstract is a concise summary of the paper. It should provide all the relevant information needed for the reader to understand the scope of the study. Abstracts do not include references and the best abstracts are written after all the other parts of the paper have been written. Abstracts should include the following:
Writing Guidelines and Rubric
BIOL/ENVS251 Spring 2020 Updated 20/02/20 Alejandrino 2
• an orientation to the theme of the experiment; the general purpose for conducting the study
• the specific objective of the experiment with the hypotheses • a description of the most important methods • the specific results that addresses the hypotheses, with statistical values • a conclusion that addresses the general importance of the experiment, with respect to
the theme Introduction The rationale of the introduction is to logically discuss the importance and the purpose and importance of the study. It is typically organized in an inverted triangle format, such that the first paragraph provides a broad background of the study. The introduction then gradually narrows to the last paragraph that provides the specific hypotheses of the study. Below is a general outline, but please follow the specific requirements detailed in the lab handouts.
• The introduction should start with a broad background to orient the reader to the general theme (natural selection, fitness, demography, biodiversity, etc.), and why it is important to study.
• The second part of the introduction should provide the premise of the study. What is currently known about the theme? What similar studies have been conducted to address the theme and what are their results? This is where most of the previous studies are used to make a case for the purpose of the study. This part may consist of multiple paragraphs that each discuss a single topic.
• The third part of the introduction should discuss what is still unknown about the subject. What is the study trying to answer? How will the study attempt to contribute to the body of knowledge about the theme?
• Finally, the introduction should provide a testable hypothesis with predictions. “Testable” means that there is a way to gather data and the data can be analyzed to find an answer.
• The methods should contain enough detail so that the experiment can be repeated. This should include the statistical analyses.
• The methods should be written in paragraph format. • The methods should be written in past tense because it outlines what procedures were
done. • Do you best to use passive voice. • The methods should identify the control (if any) and treatments. • Similarly, the methods should identify the independent variables and dependent (if any)
variables. • The methods should explain why specific procedures were taken.
o For example, “The salinity of each tide pool observed was measured using a Vernier LabQuest 2 with a salinity probe. The salinity was measured in parts per thousand (ppt) and it was collected to determine whether there was a relationship with the size of Lottia gigantea, such that smaller individuals were associated with more saline conditions.” Get Academic Writing Services with Acemyhomework