Materials and Methods

The Materials and Methods section describes your experiment in such a way that it may be repeated exactly. The majority of the information is this section comes from the Procedures section of the experiment, but in the paper, this information should not be a list of steps. Write the Materials and Methods section in paragraph format in past tense. Be sure to include levels of treatment, numbers of replications, and control treatments. If you are working with living organisms, include the species of organism and the sex of the organism if that information is relevant to the experiment. Do not include failed attempts unless the technique used may be tried by other investigators. Do not try to justify your procedures in this section.

If you describe an experiment from the lab manual, do not simply refer to the procedures listed in the lab manual. Write these procedures concisely, but in paragraph form. The difficulty comes as you decide the level of detail to include in your paragraphs. You must determine which details are essential for the investigator to repeat the experiment. For example, if in your experiment you incubate potato pieces in different concentrations of sucrose solution, it would not be necessary to explain that the pieces were incubated in plastic cups labeled with a wax marking pencil. In this case, the molarity of the sucrose solutions, the size of the potato pieces and how they were obtained, and the amount of incubation solution are the important items to include.

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