- An abstract or summary is a shortened
version of your whole experiment, aims, method, results and discussion. In a
short report, you do not have to write an abstract.
- It is especially important to be accurate
when you write your legend and your results. Your legend should give the exact
conditions under which you carried out your experiment so that other
researchers can replicate your experiment. When you state your results, they
must be accurate so that you can support the interpretation you will give in
- Addition and replacement
- Conjunctions or linking words which connect
ideas by adding on information, for example, Low
cholesterol diet had an opposite effect and caused plasma protein concentration to fall by approximately
15% or provide alternative information,
for example, Subjects consumed a low or a high cholesterol diet.
- Adjective pl. adjectives
- Adjectives are words which provide
information about a noun. When you are writing the discussion section of your
report, you can use adjectives to add some kind of judgment or value to what
you are writing. For example, the sample size was small.
- Adverb pl. adverbs
- Usually single words whose main function is
to provide extra detail about what is going on; about the verb. Adverbs are
generally formed by adding -ly to the end of an adjective, for example, He
was running quickly When you are writing the
discussion section of your report, you use modal adverbs which allow you to add some kind of judgment or value to
what you are writing. For example, A low cholesterol diet did not significantly reduce plasma cholesterol concentration.
- These kinds of adverbs express the degree
of certainty or obligation attached to a statement. They can express high or
low degrees of modality, certainly, probably.
- What you set out to do, the purpose of your
- Appendix pl. appendices
- Part of your report where you put in extra
details about your methodology or your results. Appendix (-ces) are found at
the end of the report. They are not required in second year reports.
- A logical development of your ideas to
build up a case for your interpretation of your results.
- A particular experimental procedure to find
out the amount of a chemical in a mixture. A more accurate definition is: A
reaction which measures the amount of a metabolite (compound) or enzyme in a
- Strong claims about the truth of something.
- Cause and condition
- Conjunctions or linking words which connect
information and ideas through meanings of cause/effect or condition. For
example, The results are suspect because of subjects did not comply with the dietary instructions. If the intake of high
cholesterol foods is increased, the concentration of cholesterol in blood
plasma will increase.
- How to state your results because you can
be certain about what you found.
- Words used
to place something (a noun) into a particular group, answering the question What
type? They are
usually single words which are placed directly before the main noun or head
noun in a noun group, for example, Insulin secretion in humans.
- Writing which makes sense and helps the
reader to understand what you are saying.
- How you link your ideas together in a
logical way so that your writing flows.
- Writing what you want to say in as clearly
and in as few words as possible.
- Final part of your report, contains the
main generalisations from your results and the significance of your results.
It can be part of the discussion or a separate section on its own.
- The temperature, concentrations, wave
length, duration of your experiment.
- Linking words which are used to connect
information within sentences or across sentences. Different types of
conjunctions express different types of meanings, for example time, (when,
after, first etc) comparison ( but, however etc. ) etc.
- Contrast and comparison
- Conjunctions or linking words which connect
ideas and information with similar meanings or with opposite meanings. For example, Consumption of a high cholesterol diet did not
significantly increase blood cholesterol concentration over a 12-week period
(Figure 1) Similarly, over the
same period, consumption of a low cholesterol diet did not significantly reduce
plasma cholesterol concentration. However after 12 weeks the plasma cholesterol concentration of
the high-cholesterol diet group was 50% greater than that of the
low-cholesterol group (P<0.05).
- Characteristics of people.
- Dependent variable
- The variable that is being measured.
- Part of a scientific report where you
explain and interpret your results, identify limitations in experimental
design, make recommendations for future research and generalise and state the
significance of your results.
- Downward pattern
- Thematic progression when information is
linked through sentence beginnings or Themes.
- Evaluative language
- Language where a judgment is being made.
For example, A better designed study
could have given more definitive results.
- Fan pattern
- Thematic progression when information in
one sentence ending or new is picked up in a number of following Themes.
- A way of presenting data in a graph, a
photograph, a gel.
- First person
- Referring to yourself as ‘I’ or ‘we’ when
writing your report. In science, the usual convention is to focus on the
experiment rather than on you carrying out the experiment.
- The main idea or thing that you emphasise
in your sentence, often found in the beginning or Theme of your sentence.
- A support medium, usually agarose or
polyacrylamide, which allows macromolecular separation. A voltage is applied
and molecules are separated by molecular weight or charge. This technique is
most widely used in molecular biology and biochemistry for the separation of
nucleic acids and proteins.
- Statements that you make about your results
which you think can be applied more widely.
- Figures where values for variables are
plotted against each other along a vertical and horizontal axis. Typically the
independent variable is plotted on the x axis and the dependent variable on the
- Head noun
- The key word in a noun group. For example, The relationship between fitness and the rate of muscle glycogen
consumption during exercise.
- Another name for a bar graph.
- Idiosyncrasies of individual results
- The particular characteristics of these
results which make them different from others.
- Independent variable
- The variable in an experiment which
influences the dependent variable but is itself not influenced by other
- Information structure
- The exchange of information between
sentences another name for thematic progression.
- The beginning part of your report contains
background information and your aim. It is very brief in second year reports.
- Refers to the technical language found in
particular disciplines. For example, the use of a technical word like assay which has a special meaning of its own or words like sample which is an everyday word but has a
special meaning in science.
- Stage in a short report which tells the
reader about the conditions under which the experiment was carried out.
Legends accompany tables or figures found in the results section of the report.
- Linking words
- Another name for conjunctions. Words or phrases which link ideas within sentences and across
sentence and paragraph boundaries. Linking words provide the reader with
signposts indicating how the text is developing. Types of relationships
established by linking words include cause/effect, time, addition, condition
- Typical stage in laboratory report in the
sciences which tells the reader about what materials were used in the
experiment and how the experiment was carried out. It is NOT a set of lab
instructions or a protocol BUT the reader should be provided with enough
information to repeat the experiment with his/her own equipment.
- Modal form of the verb
- Parts of verbs which are used to give
information about the degree of obligation or certainty involved in the action.
These verbs can express low, medium or high degrees of modality, for example I might go, I should go, I must go.
in a sentence which is assumed to be new or unknown to the reader or listener.
Typically new information appears at the end of the sentence, while known
information appears in the Theme at the beginning.
- Participants in the experiment did not keep
to the recommended procedure and so their results could not be counted.
- Usually a single word which contains
information about a person, place, thing or idea. For example, insulin,
humans, cholesterol etc.
- Noun group
- A group of words which contains a variety
of descriptive and classifying information about the people, places, things and
ideas which are involved in the sentence. This information can come before and
after the key word in the noun group, the Head noun. In reports the noun group often forms the title of the report or
the title for tables and figures and includes a lot of information. For example, The effect of various food additives on the secretion of insulin
- Passive voice
- The structure of the verb which allows you
to focus on what was done and not on the person doing it. For example, not We placed this mix in a 1 ml cuvette but This mix was placed in a 1 ml cuvette. Passive voice removes the focus from the
person responsible for the action to the thing that was acted on - in this case the mix.
- Prepositional phrase
- A group of words that contains a
preposition (on, with, by etc.) and a noun or
noun group. For example, on a high and low protein diet.
- A structure
that is added to a noun (typically apostrophe s ('s) ) which shows that something belongs
to or is associated with that noun (person, place or thing). For example:
demographic characteristics of subjects could be written with a possessive structure
as Subjects' demographic characteristics.
- The way you carried out your experiment,
- The experimental conditions, in particular
the concentrations of the chemicals involved in the reaction.
- A method of sampling where subjects are
chosen by chance.
- That part of your report where you list the
publications you have referred to in the body of your report. Usually not
required in second year Biochemistry.
- That part of your report where you present
your findings in tables and/or figures and summarise your results.
- Round number
- Numbers that
contain no decimal places, for example, 6.6 is made up to the round number of
- Sample or sampling
- A selected number of a population or a
specimen of something.
- Scientific argument
- Argument based on results obtained in an
experiment which followed a particular methodology.
- The basic unit of meaning. A sentence
provides information about what is happening (the process), who is taking part
and the circumstances surrounding the activity.
- Significant figure
- The degree of accuracy required in stating
your results, usually results containing 2 figures are acceptable for most
biochemistry results, for example, 6.5 or 1.9. The number of decimal places is
dependent on the accuracy of the measurement which in turn depends on the
equipment used. An absorbance reading should not be quoted to 3 decimal places
even though the machine may give you three decimal places.
- Simple past
- The past time of the verb commonly used in
- Simple present
- The present time of the verb commonly used
in the introduction to give general background information and in the
discussion to make general statements, to refer to figures or tables or to make
- Statistical differences
- Differences between results that have
reached a certain level of probability that cannot have occurred by chance. In most
cases the level of stringency quoted is 95 %. This means there is a greater
than 95 % chance the difference between 2 results did NOT occur by chance.
- Statistical probability
- A range of
measurements of the degree to which an experimental outcome could have occurred
- Study design
- Background information about sampling and
general conditions about the experimental procedure. This information should
not be repeated in the legends. Not all experiments have a study design
- The participants in the experiment.
- Brief and to the point without repetition
- Word with the same or similar meaning. For
example, result or outcome.
- A way of presenting data in columns and
- The time meaning of a verb. For example,
the legend is written in past time After 10m at room temperature, the
absorbance was determined.
- Cautious or careful conclusion or
interpretation of your results.
- Thematic progression
- The exchange and linking of information
between sentences either by repeating sentence beginnings (downward pattern) or
exchanging information between sentence endings and sentence beginnings (zig
zag or fan pattern).
- The information in the beginning part of
the sentence, usually the focus of your sentence.
- Time and place
- Conjunctions or linking words that connect
ideas or information through meanings of time or place. For example, After 10m at room temperature, ............ .
- The subject of your report. It can be
based on your aim or your conclusion.
- Words which say how usual a finding or
result is. For example, Almost all subjects on a high cholesterol diet increased their blood cholesterol
- The extent to which you can say that your experimental
approach measured accurately what you wanted it to measure and so the outcomes
or results of the experiment are valid.
- A word that describes a process. For
example, a process can be an action - the
flask was shaken or a state - the sample
size was small or a thought or feeling - researchers believe ... or something that is said - researchers recommended ...... .
- X-fold or % changes
- When you are summarising your results, you
do not repeat every result you obtained as these can be seen in your tables and
figures. Trends in your results can be summarised as fold or % changes over
time. For example, There was a two fold increase in the concentration of x
over y time period. or The concentration of x
increased by 30% over y time period.
- Zig-zag pattern
- Thematic progression when information in
sentence endings is linked to the following sentence beginnings.