Examples of method sections
An excerpt from the method section of a biology report
| Growth rates were determined by estimating
the number of bacteria in a culture at zero time and after 1 hour
of growth at 37°C. In order to make this estimation, a dilution
series was performed by diluting aliquots of the bacterial culture,
at each incubation time, by a factor of 10, 100, and 10 000 with
nutrient broth, and then plating out 0.01ml of each of these dilutions
onto quadrants of a sterile agar plate. Following one week’s incubation
at 25°C, the colonies of the plate were counted manually.
In this excerpt no amounts or descriptions of equipment
have been included nor would they have been necessary, as someone
wishing to repeat the experiment could change these and still get
the same effect.
An example of a poorly written method section from a
| We did a serial dilution
by pipetting 0.9 ml broth into labelled tubes, then
adding 2 drops (0.1ml) of the original culture to tube 1, 2 drops
of tube 1 to tube 2, 2 drops of tube 2 to 3 and 2 drops of tube
3 to tube 4. Mix the
tubes and spread a loopful (0.01 ml) of each tube onto a different
quadrant of a labelled agar plate.
||The personal pronoun
we could have been avoided by using the passive voice (a serial
dilution was carried out).
as simple as possible.
repetition.In the present tense, this reads like an instruction,
not a description of what you did. The past tense should be used
(The tubes were mixed…)
An excerpt from the method section of a psychology report
Twenty-two first year industrial trade students enrolled in a training
course at a Sydney company participated in the experiment. The students
were from a varied educational background but all had completed
at least Year 10 of High School and all understood electrical principles
at a basic level ….. Students who had completed further studies
were excluded from the study. …..
The instructional materials used in the experiment consisted of
information on three electrical safety tests that are performed
on 240 volt electrical appliances using a volt meter…..
Subjective ratings were used in the experiment to measure cognitive
load as they “provide a powerful …(measure of) the subjective experience
of workload” (Gopher & Braune, 1984: 529; see also Paas &
van Merrienboer, 1993; 1994) since students have little difficulty
assigning a numerical value to the imposed mental workload…..A copy
of the subjective mental load rating scale used in the experiment
has been included in Appendix 4.
The test material consisted of test items and equipment for both
written and practical tests. Each test item was designed to be objective
and was marked as either correct or incorrect. The written test
consisted of twenty three items. …..
All the students were randomly assigned to either the isolated-interacting
elements instruction or the interacting elements only group with
11 students in each group. They were tested individually, in a quiet
room. ….. At the completion of the study phase, the students were
provided with a subjective mental load rating scale, the format
of which was explained to both groups. They were asked to rate the
mental effort involved in understanding all of the electrical tests
described in their training booklet on the scale …..
The test section of the experiment followed. The students were asked
to complete the written test, described in the materials section,
Participants section describes WHO was involved
in the experiment
Materials section describes WHAT was used
in the experiment.
Procedure section describes HOW the experiment
was done and how the data was collected.
An excerpt from the method section of a scientific report
from Education that used qualitative research methodology.
| The study originated from a need
to explain the differences in participation rates between boys and
girls in physical activity. In the present study, systemic functional
linguistics and semiotic theory and methodology have provided the
means to go beyond the earlier approach of identifying and quantifying
the number and duration of different types of teachers and pupil
behaviour (Good and Brophy, 1973; Cinclair and Coulthard, 1975).
An approach combining systemic functional linguistics and semiotic
theory and methodology meant the present research could take into
account the complexity of meanings generated in lessons, including
meanings, that operate at the unconscious as well as the conscious
level of awareness. ….
Systemic functional linguistics requires a detailed and systematic
analysis of text….
Three schools were finally settled upon as
the most appropriate sources for the variety of lesson situations
required. This selection took into account the combinations of teachers
and students most likely to be found in New South Wales secondary
schools. One school situated in a semi-rural area had universal
mixed physical education ... From these schools, six male teachers
and three female teachers consented to have their lessons recorded
on video and audio tape (through lapel microphones). These teachers,
together with at least one other member of staff from each school,
were also interviewed at length ...
In all, eighteen lessons were recorded, some lasting for one ‘period’
of 40 minutes duration and others for a ‘double period’ of 80 minutes.
As some lessons yielded 40 pages of transcript, the usual detailed
analysis of every clause was obviously impracticable for this amount
of a data. A taxonomy was developed to provide the initial framework
(grid) by which the lessons could be analysed in terms of the research
questions described below. As a starting point, two lessons were
selected for analysis …..
|Outline of and justification for the
theoretical perspectives informing the research and the methodological
The following two paragraphs provide the
details of how the researcher gathered data for that part of the
research that looked at classroom interactions.
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