FORMAT FOR FORMAL LAB REPORT - Vertebrate Physiology[1]


      The text of the formal lab write-up should be no longer than two pages, type-written (use a standard #12 font) and double-spaced with one inch margins.  You may have to edit your first draft to keep from running over the two-page limit.  The text of the paper should be written in complete sentences. 

      The formal lab write-up must be done individually by each student.  You must work independently.  Remember, paraphrasing as well as quoting another individual without giving him/her credit is plagiarism.  Please see the 2001-2002 Loyola Undergraduate Catalogue for a discussion of academic integrity and what constitutes plagiarism.  If you have any questions - come talk to me before you hand in your paper!E

      Writing style is important.  Reading scientific papers can help you to develop your writing style.  Doing the “Library Assignment”, where you read and summarize a research paper in a scientific journal should help you to write your paper.  However, write your paper as if it was to be read by a student of your own level who has not taken the course. 

      The report should have a title page that should include the title of the lab, your name in the upper right-hand corner of the page, and the names of your laboratory partners in the lower right-hand corner of the page.  Divide the report into the following sections each labeled with a Roman numeral and heading (Introduction, Materials and Methods, etc.):


I.  Introduction:  -  This section should:


·        Begin by clearly stating (in a single sentence, if possible) the specific purpose or objective of each experiment in the exercise.[2]

·        Briefly state/explain the theories or concepts that are important to understanding each part of the experiment.  Be as specific as possible.

·        Based on the theoretical concepts just outlined (see previous point, above) state what results you would expect from each experiment (i.e., based on currently accepted ideas, what is your hypothesis regarding the outcome of each experiment?)  Be specific.


II. Materials and Methods: - Since most materials and methods are found in the lab manual, cite this source using the proper format.  Then mention any changes that were made by you (intentionally or otherwise!) which were not described in the manual.  Do not list materials and methods that are already specified in the manual.







III. Results:


A.     Begin this section with a “narrative” or text section.  The narrative must use complete sentences and paragraphs. Focus on the important findings in your study, pointing out major trends in your data.  Note:  You can write this section only after having carefully analyzed your data, graphs, etc.  If you refer to your tables, graphs, diagrams, etc. in this section, mention their reference numbers (see below).  Be as specific as possible.  

B.     In addition, all experimental observations and measurements should be appended to the end of the report on separate pages and should include the following:


·        Tables - Tables should be devised to organize your experimental data and to present it in an easy to understand format.  Values calculated from your raw data  (if any) can also be displayed in the same tables.  Note:  Devise your own typed tables - do not include tables from the handouts.

·        Polygraph traces.

·        Graphs constructed from experimental data should be included in the Results section. Please do all graphs by hand, rather than using a computer program.

·        Pictures, diagrams, etc.

·        Sample calculations.


Note:  Tables (Tables), graphs and diagrams (Figures) must be clearly presented, and given sequential reference numbers (Fig. 1, Fig. 2, or Table 1, Table 2, for example) and a descriptive title.


IV. Discussion and Conclusions: - In this section you should analyze or interpret your data.  The question is, did your results confirm your expectations?  A useful format for interpreting your data is as follows:


·        Briefly state your results.

·        Compare your results to your hypothesis (as stated in the Introduction) and

·        State whether your results confirmed your hypothesis or not.  If the results do not support your hypothesis try to explain why they do not.  Include any specific sources of error that may have affected your results in this section.

·        Briefly describe how your results relate to the concepts that the laboratory was meant to demonstrate.


This section should be a thoughtful, well-organized interpretation of your data.  It should NOT be a repetition of the Results section.  It is your opportunity to demonstrate what you learned from the experiments and to show that you understand the concepts involved.




V.        Literature Cited: 


                        A.        Format for "Literature Cited" section:  Whenever you quote or paraphrase any pub­lished source, you must cite it  (for example, your textbook or a refer­ence book) in a very specific manner.  You should include an alphabetized list of references entitled, "Literature Cited", as section V. of your report.  References should be listed in the format shown below:


                                    For articles:


                                                            Kamel F, Kubajak CL, 1988.  Gonadal steroid effects of LH response to arachidonic acid and protein kinase C.  Amer. J Physiol. 255:­314-321.


                                    For books:


                                                            Guyton AC, 1984.  Physiology of the Human Body, Saund­ers College Publishing, Philadelphia, pp. 145-162.


                                    For chapters from books:


                                                            Griffin JE, 1988.  The thyroid, in:  Textbook of Endo­crine Physi­ology, Griffin JE and Ojeda SR (eds.), Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 222-244.


                        B.         When you cite a reference (listed in Lit Cited section) in your report, use one of the two formats shown below:


                                    1.         You can make the citation at the end of the sentence where the information from the work is incorporated:


                                                Example:  Mice exhibit high levels of thyroxin as compared to rats (Felzen, 1989).


                                    2.         Or - you can include the citation as part of the sentence:


                                                Example:  Felzen (1989) states that mice exhibit high levels of thyroxin as compared to rats.


VI.  Sample Calculations - include any sample calculations in this section.
















[1] Parts of this description are adapted from unpublished material compiled by D. Suter and B. Lammers.

[2] Many of the laboratory exercises contain several individual experiments.  Make sure to include the purpose of each experiment that you did in class in this section.