Writing lab reports is an important part of any biologists life and practice in writing all sections of such a report is crucial to being successful. An introduction to the topic, informing the reader of general background information on the experiment and why it was done is necessary. The methods of the experiment provide a blueprint, allowing for replicability, and thus the ability to confirm results or allow others to improve upon them. The results of the experiment must be concise, a statement of just facts. No interpretations, only laying out what resulted from the experiments. Finally, the discussion section reveals how one may interpret the results. Furthermore, this may be used to discuss what may be done to improve the experiment, or what may be done in the future.
To simulate a research report students were tasked with finding a spiderweb and photographing it. A multi-panel figure would then need to be created using the photographs and map images. In order to practice writing clear, accurate methods, the student had to write with the intention of another student following their methods, and then replicating the photographs and figures. This project demonstrated the need to be highly specific and precise with methods writing. Furthermore, comparison of figures only after both were created highlighted mistakes and areas where the methods could have been improved upon.
The ability to identify factors which need to be controlled for is another crucial skill when designing experiments and writing research report. When taking photographs of the spiderweb, there were a number of factors to control for in order to obtain similar pictures. This included things such as the time of day, amount of light, and weather needed to be accounted for. In addition to this, the object used for accurately representing scale had to be noted, as well as where it was held in relation to the spider web. Furthermore, distance from the spiderweb, and the angle at which the photograph was taken had to be taken into account.
Similar factors had to be controlled when describing the editing done to create the figure. The size the photographs were scaled to was noted, as well as their general arrangement. How labeling was implemented on the figure was to be controlled. This included the color, font sizes, and location of the labeling.