Write a Protocol

Once you have designed your experiment you need to formally present it in a protocol.

A protocol is simply a recipe, or written design, for performing the experiment.

You must write a protocol to insure that you have both a clear idea of how you will do the experiment and that you will have all the materials that are needed. A scientist usually writes his/her protocol in a laboratory notebook. Following the completion of the protocol, the next step in the scientific process is to perform the experiment. As the investigation takes place, observations are made and results are recorded.

Components of an Experimental Protocol

1. Purpose: This is a formal statement which encompasses your hypothesis. It is a statement of what question you are trying to answer and what hypothesis you wish to test.

2. Materials: List all major items needed to carry out your experiment. This list need not be lengthy if the materials are already published, but it should include the essentials.

3. Methods: How will you set up your experiment? How many experimental groups will you have? How will you measure the effect you wish to study? How long will the experiment last? These and any other methods should be explicitly stated or referenced so that a reader has all the information they need to know to be able to repeat your experiment and verify your results.

4. Controls: Identify the relevant control(s) treatment. Think about the variable(s) you and your group are manipulating. Your control needs to be held under natural, or unmanipulated conditions, not affected by the tested variable.

5. Data Interpretation: What will be done with the data once it is collected? Data must be organized and summarized so that the scientist himself, and other researchers can determine if the hypothesis has been supported or negated. Results are usually shown in tables and graphs (figures). Statistic analyses are often made to compare experimented and controlled populations.

6. References: Any published works (journals, books, websites) that you cite in your protocol should be listed in the reference section so that anyone reading your protocol can look that work up if they desire.

Putting this all together, the scientist will be able to write a scientific paper once his/ her data is collected. For these laboratories it should be possible to write a good protocol in less than a page. A sample protocol format has been written for your reference. Remember do not write "fluff," i.e., extraneous information and/or overly descriptive text that is not relevant to the experiment. The reader of a protocol is interested in being informed concisely and accurately!!


red_sq1.gif (226 bytes) SAMPLE PROTOCOL

Main Page | Introduction and Objectives | Scientific Investigation | Experimental Procedures | Writing Procedures | Mendelian InheritanceMonohybrid and Dihybrid Exercises | Reference | Miscellaneous | Overview | The Question | The Hypothesis | The Experiment | The Scientific Paper | Variables | Procedures | Predictions | Protocol | Data Evaluations | Conclusions |