Updated July 29, 2002
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Assignment Tips Check List Quiz
- Scientific Method
- Experimental design?
- Bean growth ?design of experiment
- Independent Research Project
- Scientific Investigation - Question, Hypothesis, Experiment, Paper
- A, B, C's of Goldfish
- Effect Of Oxygen Depletion On Goldfish
- Feeding / temperature
- The Goldfish Sanctuary
- Temperature Effects
Check List for Your ReportUse this checklist to see that your report meets the guidelines
General 1. Type or wordprocess your report 2. Spellcheck your report 3. Write the report using the past tense 4. Have a title page that includes the title, your name, section number and date 5. Number each page after the title page 6. Use headings (Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, References Cited) Title 7. Identify the organism, the response measured,and the environmental variable Introduction 8. Include the hypothesis, the basis for the hypothesis, and the prediction used to test the hypothesis 9. Include at least one piece of information that you learned from a reference source Materials and Methods 10. Tell what was used at the time you tell how the item was used. Don't make a separate list. Results 11. Tell in words and paragraphs what was observed and what did result 12. Place tables and figures (graphs) in the Results section 13. Give each table and each figure (graph) a number and a title. Refer to each by number in the Results section. Discussion 14. Evaluate the hypothesis by telling if the results support or fail to support the prediction used to test the hypothesis. 15. Address biological reasons to explain why what resulted did result, perhaps including information used to answer the questions in the lab manual. Conclusions 16. State the major piece(s) of information learned in the study in a manner that has meaning if read separate from the rest of the report. References Cited 17. Include at least two citations. One to the lab manual, a second to the reference used to learn information related to the investigation.
For discussion in laboratory or in your written report.
1. Do the results support your hypothesis? If so, does this mean
your hypothesis is correct? If not, might errors in the
experimental procedure have affected the results?
2. Did you expect the number of mouth movements to be precisely
the same as the number of opercular movements? Suggest
reasons why these values might differ.
3. On the basis of the data obtained should the fish be
classified as cold-blooded or warm-blooded? Does your analysis
match that usually given in textbooks?
4. Did you expect that the experimental goldfish would breathe at
the same rate as the control goldfish when they were at the
same temperature? Suggest reasons why these values might be
5. If a definite relationship between temperature and breathing
was observed, suggest some reasons for this relationship.
6. In what way would you revise the experiment if you wished to
test a similar hypothesis using a warm-blooded animal? Would
you expect experimental results of such an experiment to be
quite similar or very different?
7. Would the experiment have been better if we had used
temperatures lower than 9 C and temperatures higher than 27C?
8. Other than an owner of a pet goldfish, who might find use for
what was learned about breathing, temperature, and goldfish?
Guidelines for Writing Your Report - Appendix A As stated in Exercise 1, results of a scientific investigation are communicated in the form of a report or paper. General guidelines for writing a report of an investigative laboratory are provided below. They should be used together with any specific directions provided by your instructor. 1. Make your report an original, creative effort. Although you may cooperate with classmates in performing some experiments, the written reports which you submit should be written by and be original to you, and not a joint effort. 2. Assume that your readers will have a basic background knowledge of the subject matter of your investigation to understand and to be interested in it. 3. Type your report on 8 X 11 in. white, opaque paper (not onion skin). Type on one side of the paper only. Use double space. Leave a 1 in. margin at the left and top, and a 1 in. margin at the right and bottom. Indent paragraphs uniformly. 4. The first page of your report should be the title page. Do not number it. Center the title. Capitalize the first letter of the first, last, and every important word in the title. Do not underline the title; do not use a punctuation mark at the end of the title. Include on the title page your name, section number, date submitted, and any other information in the manner prescribed by your instructor. 5. All pages of the text of your report should be numbered consecutively. On the top of the first page of text (immediately following the title page), put the title, following the rules noted above. 6. Make the title descriptive and informative so that the prospective reader will know the key components of your investigation. Normally the title will include the name of the organism studied, and note the biological response measured and major variables which were tested. 7. Include each of the following sections in your report: Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Conclusions References Cited (The "References" section is not included in the body of the text, but follows the text as the last part of the paper.) Use headings to identify the start of each section of the report. 8. Introduction: This section provides some background information, placing the topic of investigation in its proper setting, and relating it to previously published work. If the investigation involves the testing of a hypothesis, that hypothesis is stated clearly. Included here is the basis for proposing the hypothesis, as well as the predicted outcome if the hypothesis is true. Any assumptions made in formulating the hypothesis are also stated. 9. Materials and Methods: Under this heading is included a description of the materials (for example the particular organism or tissue) to be used in the investigation, and of the techniques and procedures to be followed. This description must be sufficiently detailed to allow the procedure to be repeated by other investigators. However, if the techniques have been described adequately in some previous publication, a reference to that publication is usually sufficient. If the previously published techniques are to be modified in any manner, such modifications must be noted. In writing this section, state what was done. Do not write in the form of giving directions. Some details can be omitted by assuming the reader will know or presume that information. (For example, a reader should presume that temperature reported in Celsius was measured with a thermometer graduated in Celsius). Identify items used at the time that you tell how they were used. Do not list separately the items used. 10. Results: The data obtained from the observations are presented in this section. The results are usually summarized in the form of tables and graphs which are referenced appropriately in the text. The text draws attention to particular parts of the data presented in the tables and graphs. Each table and graph should: (a) be included in the results section, not appended to the end of the report; (b) have a number (e.g., Table 1, Table 2, for tables, and Figure 1, Figure 2, for graphs); (c) have a title descriptive of the information contained in it. In constructing your graphs: (a) use this format -- Figure 1 Format for Graphs high | Dependent | Variable | | low | | low - - - - > high Independent Variable (b) identify and label the variable and the units of measurement used (for example: Temperature, oC; movements per minute); (c) use an appropriate scale to mark each axis of the graph into proper divisions (for example: 5 small boxes = 5 degrees); different scales may be used for the two axes. Choose a scale for each axis that will spread the points of your graph over most of the paper and not crowd them into one corner. (d) if several sets of data are presented on one graph, use different symbols to distinguish them ( for example: - - - or . _ . _ . _ . _ ). 11. Discussion: This part of the report includes the analysis and interpretation of the results. Comparisons frequently are made with work published previously in order to draw attention to any similarities or deviations. Conclusions from previous investigations are thus reinforced or challenged. New questions often are posed as a basis for future investigations. If your investigation involved the testing of a hypothesis, you would evaluate the hypothesis in the light of the data obtained. 12. Conclusions: In this section, the major findings from the investigation are summarized in a concise statement. This section should be limited to one or two short paragraphs. The conclusions are often abstracted and thus may appear in print separate from the rest of the report. The title and the conclusions are the only parts which are read widely. Thus you must take care that they can be understood easily and accurately. 13. References Cited: Publications or other sources of information to which references are made in the report are listed at the end: (a) If the reference is a journal article, use the following format: Author's last name and first initial (in the case of multiple authors, only the first author is listed in this way; the other authors are listed with initial followed by last name). Year of Publication. Title of article. Name of journal, volume and page numbers. For example: Pratt, T. K. and E. W. Stiles. 1985. The influence of fruit size and structure on composition of frugivore assemblages in New Guinea. Biotropica 17:314-321 (b) If the reference is a book, use the following format: Authors' name(s) as above. Year of publication. Title of book. Name of publisher. Place of publication. For example: Fisher, R. A. 1930. The genetical theory of natural selection. Dover, New York. (c) List references in alphabetical order (by the author's last name or, if the author is unknown, by the first significant word in the title). (d) Include at least one reference, that being your laboratory manual. You may also refer to your text and perhaps one or two other books, but keep the list short. (e) For examples of how references are listed, look at several articles in biological journals (for example, BioScience, American Zoologist) in the library. 14. Have enough pride in your work to proof your report for spelling, grammar, punctuation, accuracy and completeness. 15. Make a copy of your report for your records, before submitting the original. 16. Fasten the pages of your report by stapling or with a binder. 17. Ask your instructor for help if you need clarification of any of the above guidelines.
- Come to laboratory prepared to do the assignment. Read and understand the exercise and bring a pencil, ruler and calculator.
- In lab ask and clarify any things that may be unclear before you begin the exercise.
- During the experiment, as your team is making observations, four students from each team record measurements on the worksheet. Have each of the four student record only the measurements that they made. Don't delay the experiment by allowing all students to copy the finding of all the other students. This may not be necessary at all, but if you wish to copy data from all students, wait until the experiment is completed.
- If you find that there are periods in which you have time available, use the time to calculate averages, convert to counts per minute, and to post your team's results so they will be available to all other students in the class.
- Work as a team to calculate class average values.
- Be sure you have all the results and know the assignment.
- Neaten your lab space, clean, dry and put away equipment.
- If you need help with your graph or have question on the assignment ask your instructor. Many computers have the ability to make graphs easily and you should learn to use a computer to do so. It is best to use your own computer if you have one. If not, visit one of the computer labs on campus, or if all else fails, visit Dr. Reid and ask for help.
- Write your report as soon as possible. Information will be fresh in your mind, you will have time to ask for help if needed, and you will avoid last minute computer or printer problems.
- Follow all requirements, timelines and guidelines
- Word process your report so that you can make revisions easily.
- Create a first, second ( and perhaps 3rd draft) of your report. If possible allow a day or more to pass between each draft.
In the first draft, focus on major content.
In the second draft attend to the organization, clarity, flow of ideas, completeness, sentence construction, appropriate headings, format, grammar, spelling, etc.
In the final draft polish the ideas, wording and arrangement of content and attend to details of pagination, spacing, and quality.
- Make your report an individual effort.
- Express ideas in your own words.
- Credit ideas that you take from others.
- Be sure to keep a copy of your report just in case the original is lost.
AssignmentThe assignment for Exercise 1 is to report class data (the results from all teams) as a scientific report following the guidelines in Appendix A. The report is due at the start of the next laboratory meeting.
In addition to what is described in Appendix A, I want you to do the following:
- Include computer generated graphs of the class average data in the Results section of the report.
- Look up in some reference source information related to some aspect of the study. The reference source could be your text, an encyclopedia, a book on aquaria or tropical fish, or information from electronic sources. Include in the Introduction at least one piece of information that you learned from the reference. Cite the reference in your report.
- Cite in References Cited at least two sources; the reference noted above in item two, and your laboratory manual.
General Information:The information presented here is intended to guide you as you prepare in advance of performing laboratory exercise 1, and also to help you as you write a scientific report based on the exercise.
Some instructors ask you to perform the laboratory exercise exactly as it is written and to report the results in the format described in Appendix A of the laboratory manual. However, other instructors may specify changes in the experimental design ( for example, a different number of replicate measurements, different temperatures, a particular control temperature) and / or in the nature of the assigned report. The information here is based on what Dr. Reid requires of students in the sections he teaches. If you have a different laboratory instructor, follow the directions of your instructor.
We selected this to be the first laboratory exercise because we think you will enjoy working with a familiar organism (goldfish) and watching its behaviors and activities change in response to your actions. The procedures you follow will require you to work closely with all the classmates at your table and to become an experimental team. Your team will share data with three other teams, each of which will conduct the similar experiment independently. Base your interpretation and report on the class average data (results from all four teams). In this manner you will learn if the responses of your fish are representative behaviors of goldfish or individual behaviors of the particular experimental and control goldfish that you happened to observe. We expect variability in biological data both because the fish are not identical (e.g. differences in size, age, genetic) and their treatment prior to and during the experiment.
I. INTRODUCTION TO THE SCIENTIFIC METHODOne dictionary defines science as systematic knowledge of the physical and material world. The impact of scientific knowledge on our daily lives is obvious. In general, anything scientific almost automatically gains respectability. Results of scientific study are generally considered to be reliable. The reasons why science has become such a powerful force in human affairs are to be found in the process by which scientific knowledge is acquired. This process is called the scientific method. Its rigorous application to all scientific investigations ensures the reliability of their outcome.
The first step in any scientific inquiry is observation of objects, events and phenomena which leads to a question. This observation may be direct or indirect. In many instances, the observer may employ experimental methods to answer the question generated, that is, set up particular conditions under which additional observations will be made.
Scientists usually are interested, not merely in describing the world of nature as they find it, they are equally interested in finding explanations for natural events, processes or phenomena. Frequently, when a large number of specific observations on a given subject are made, a common pattern begins to emerge. This common pattern allows the scientist to make some generalizations about the subject of the investigation. The crucial test of whether the scientist has in fact discovered some basic natural occurrence, or some fundamental property, comes when the generalization is applied to a number of specific cases which have not been observed previously. Based on previous observations, the scientist proposes a hypothesis, which is a tentative explanation for certain phenomena or relationships. Assuming the hypothesis to be true, the scientist can then make predictions about the outcome of the proposed new observations. If the actual observations agree with the predicated ones, the hypothesis is said to be supported. If the actual observations do not agree with those predicted, the hypothesis is said to be disproved. A new hypothesis or new explanation must then be proposed and tested.
If a hypothesis is supported in a large number of specific instances, it is said to be verified. It may then lead to the establishment of a theory. A theory is a generally accepted explanation for a group of known facts or for a class of phenomena. Finally, the repeated testing of a theory might uncover some fundamental relationships which are invariable under constant conditions and therefore are predictable. A statement of such relationships constitutes a law or principle. A scientific law is universally applicable. It is, however, not absolute; it continues to be subject to testing. The results of new experiments sometimes require modifications in a supposedly well established law.
It should be noted that every scientific investigation need not incorporate all of the steps included in this scientific method. For example, many investigations are concerned only with the first step, that of observation. Such investigations are important since they contribute knowledge which leads to the formulation of generalizations. They do not, however, require the postulation of hypotheses. Other investigations involve the testing of generalizations and require construction of hypotheses based on the generalizations.
An important and essential aspect of scientific work is the communication of results of the investigation to the scientific community. This is done most commonly by publication of a formal report in a professional journal. The scientific paper, as it is called, is generally written (particularly in the biological sciences) in a standard format. General directions for writing a report are given in Appendix A of the laboratory manual.