University of Wisconsin–Madison

METHODS WRITING PRACTICE ACTIVITY IN BIOMOLECULAR CHEMISTRY 504

PROFESSOR ANGELA KITA

BIOMOLECULAR CHEMISTRY

Based on lab 1: Pipetting & Spectrophotometry

The methods can be a difficult section to write. It needs to be a clear and precise description of how the experiment was done, including: materials used, a description of the experiment, and how results were analyzed. And yet, you have to strike a balance between enough information that the reader knows what you did, but not so much information that you are rewriting the protocol. This activity will be an opportunity to practice writing a methods section.

Organization: Methods sections are usually best when each major step is separated into subheadings (i.e. for each assay or type of analysis). What subheadings might you use for “Determining Concentration using Absorbance” from Lab 1? Write your ideas here:

 

 

 

 

 

Identifying Relevant Information: Another key aspect of the methods section is highlighting the most important information that will make sense to someone with a scientific background (that can go look up a more detailed protocol as needed). Using the space provided below, outline the main steps of “Determining Concentration using Absorbance” as bullet points.

 

 

 

 

 

Discuss your subheadings and bullet points with 2 other students and highlight the most relevant pieces of information.

Draft: In 2-3 sentences, write out the methods for Lab 1. (Use the back of the page)

Exchange with partner and provide feedback:

General Tips:

• Avoid using volumes as much as possible. For example, report dilutions by referring to the dilution factor: “The sample was diluted 1à10.” Versus “2 mL of sample was mixed with 18 mL of filtered water.”

• Always write in the third person, passive, past tense. Example “The sample was incubated on ice for 30 minutes.” Not “I put the sample on ice for 30 minutes.”