Posted: January 10th, 2024
BMS1514 Laboratory Report Structure and Marking Rubric
Your Lab Report must be divided into sections in the following order; title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, conclusions references, appendix. The appendix section is optional.
BMS1514 Laboratory Report Structure and Marking Rubric
LABORATORY REPORT STRUCTURE
Deadline: 26th February 2023, 23:59 via Turn-it-in
Word Count: 1,500 words (+/-10%)
The focus of this lab report will be based on a number of Research Questions (RQ’s) that will be based on the data it was collected during the three lab practicals.
The lab report you will submit for BMS1514 needs to show in depth understanding of specific measurements performed during Practicals 1-3, and how these measurements/techniques link with specific aspects/theories of the module covered in lectures and PBL’s. This report aims to assess your ability to research and synthesise information relating to these practicals’ measurements, data collection and results.
The report has a word limit of 1,500 words +/-10% (1,350-1,650). Several RQ’s have been released on MyLearning page. Students have the freedom to choose the RQ/Topic they want for their lab report. Each RQ examines specific associations among measurements taken during the lab practicals 1-3.
Within this report you should: a) demonstrate scientific knowledge and understanding on the underpinning mechanisms/theories behind specific associations/relationships as per RQ/topic; b) examine theses specific associations and then explain what the results mean, support your statements with scientific evidence and not personal opinions; c) describe in a concise and accurate way and in the correct order the methods used, including the specific equipment used for each method/technique; d) analyse and present the data from all participants, not just yours, and e) discuss what your results mean and present conclusions based on them. To achieve this successfully please follow the outlined structure below. The grade percentage of each section towards the total grade is indicated. In addition, a proposed word count for each section is shown.
Your Lab Report must be divided into sections in the following order:
1) TITLE (2.5%)
The title is the first part read from your report. It should be descriptive and give an idea to the reader what the report is about. The title should be original but should be based on the RQ of your choice.
2) ABSTRACT (5%)
Approx. 74-112 words
This section of the report is the summarised version of the whole text and it should include approximately a sentence from each of the other sections. It should identify the aim, what was done, key findings and main conclusions.
An abstract is a short summary of a longer report and should be preferably composed after the lab report is written. You may have already observed on-line search databases typically contain only abstracts, thus it is vital to write a complete but concise description of your work that gives an accurate overview of what happened in the research study of your choice (to persuade potential readers to read the full report. If your abstract is poor and vague then you will not be able to “sell” your work. The ability to write an informative and concise abstract is very important.
Use the below points as a tick √ list to check yourself that you have included the most essential points for your abstract:
An abstract is a self-contained synopsis or summary of your main findings. An abstract should start with and contain the following:
1) The objectives (i.e., the purpose of the study), some abstracts also contain few lines of background info followed by the methods.
2) A brief reference to the methods you used to perform your lab report. Writing up for your lab report include: participants (e.g., number of participants, gender, age, height, weight, BMI, etc),methods (e.g., bioelectrical impedance, pulse oximetry, IPAQ) and materials (e.g., tape measure, weight scale etc) used.
3) A summary of your results (main findings), the summary of your results should include actual numerical values, those obtained from the statistical analyses you performed. Note that you should not include any tables or figures or refer to them within the abstract.
4) An abstract should finish with a brief concluding comment. Despite the fact that an abstract is quite brief, it must do almost as much work as the multi-page lab report that follows it. Note: Do not include any references within the abstract although this is different to when you are submitting an abstract for a conference.
I highly recommend that you study several abstracts from peer-reviewed published research studies that investigated questions similar to our RQ’s. This will help you to get an idea what needs to be included in an abstract and how to structure it as well.
3) INTRODUCTION (15%)
An introduction should set the scene to the whole document. It should define the subject of the lab report in a fairly concise way, and give the reader sufficient background knowledge to understand the rest of the report. Limit the background information only to whatever is pertinent to the RQ of your choice. The information given MUST be relevant to the specific RQ. The introduction MUST flow into the purpose of the study. Therefore, you should finish the introduction by clearly stating the aims/objectives of this study and the research hypothesis. Key questions to be answered:
Please use it as a tick √ list to check yourself that you have included the most essential points for your introduction:
• Why is this topic important? (e.g., What are the dangers of cardiovascular diseases (CAD)? what is the mortality and morbidity rate of individuals with CAD? What are the causes of CAD? What does the literature shows about physical activity, general health and CAD?
• What knowledge already exists about this topic and what is the broad theory behind the topic and measurements involved (but without describing the methods of this study in this section). To answer this question you must review the literature, showing the historical development of an idea/knowledge and include the confirmations, conflicts, and gaps in existing knowledge. You may also want to provide knowledge on how this topic relates to homeostasis. You must demonstrate knowledge on the specific underpinning physiological mechanisms. For example, what are the causes behind high adiposity levels? and how these may be associated with low grip strength, and low lung function, and low physical activity levels. What is the theory behind a high urine specific gravity and a high perception rating of thirst. You must demonstrate knowledge (physiology/pathophysiology) relevant and specific to the RQ of your choice.
• What are the aims? State them.
• What is your hypothesis? (idea of what will happen-not a random one but a plausible one as per theory)
*Things that you should include or avoid in the introduction:
1) Previous studies (relevant and recent research studies)- include
2) You should avoid describing the methods or reporting the results in your introduction.
3) Your introduction should not read like a list of term definitions but like a story that makes sense and has a logical development and a good flow. Your introduction should not read like a list of cut and pasted definitions and text book sections. Your introduction should identify important concepts and theories relevant to the RQ of your choice and towards its end should lead to the purpose of the study.
4) The purpose of the study should be stated only once in the introduction, at the end of this section.
5) METHODS (5%)
Approx. 74-115 words
The methods section is a brief summary of what was done in the lab. This section needs to summarise the methods applied in a way that they can be reproduced by the readers if they wish so. The specific methods for each measurement taken can be found in the slides of each practical. Do not use bullet points for your methods. This should be an impersonal account of what was done in paragraph form and should be written in the past form.
See below for Step-by-Step instructions on how to structure your methods (observe also the structure of other research articles that used the same or similar methods).
The methods section should be described accurately, clearly, concisely and in the correct order (e.g., the order that the various steps of a specific test were performed). Try to provide enough detail for the reader to understand the experiment BUT without overwhelming them. Structure it in subsections as observed in other scientific papers.
Use it as a tick √ list, to check yourself that you have included the most essential points for your methods:
Generally, this section attempts to answer the following questions:
1. Who were the participants? (for example, what were they? Olympic athletes? Patients? Drivers? PG Students? What was their age range what was the mean and SD? What were their anthropometric characteristics and demographics?). Thus, include participants’ demographic details and provide the mean and the standard deviation of their age, height, weight. In addition provide the total number of volunteers participating in these practical, how many for each gender/sex, or anything that is relevant to this study. This is what we call descriptive statistics. Calculate the means and standard deviation using excel or other statistical software.
You should state how your participants were selected. For example, did they volunteer or did you pay them to participate? Avoid using the word subjects, is better to use participants, volunteers, rowers, runners, students etc. The use of subject is derogatory and this was commented two decades ago in the Journal of Sports Sciences.
2. What materials and methods were used? For example, did we use tape measures? Urine pots and Urine analysis strips? Refractometers? BMI formula? OFC’s? BEI devices? Digital Weight scales? BP devices? Saliva Collection containers? Self-reported Questionnaires? Smart phone applications? 3D scanners? Study the slides of each practical and DO NOT include materials and methods that are not relevant to the RQ/topic of your choice.
3. How were these materials used? Describe how these equipment or materials were used (look at the instructions provided in the slides).
4. Statistical analyses/Calculations used to answer the main questions of this study. You should describe the statistical tests used to answer the questions and the software used to run your stats.
5. RESULTS (15%)
Approx. 74-115 words
The result section should be a report of your data. You should not interpret your findings in here. Collate the data and represent it in a meaningful way. Do not just copy the raw data from the excel spreadsheet provided.
The results section should summarize the data from the experiments without discussing their implications. Do not discuss your results in this section.
Your findings/results, in addition to the short text describing what happened, must be well organised and therefore the use of tables and/or graphs is a MUST, but AVOID duplicating the information (for example do not use a table and a graph as well to show the same set of data, choose the most effective medium to do this, this is your call). All figures and tables should have descriptive titles and should have their axes labelled, including units used, include a legend explaining any symbols, abbreviations, or special methods used. Figures and tables should be numbered separately and should be referred to in the text by number.
Figures and tables should be self-explanatory; meaning that the reader should be able to understand them without referring to the text. All columns and rows in tables and axes in figures MUST be labelled. This section of your report should concentrate on general trends and differences and not on trivial details. Many authors organize and write the results section before the rest of the report. Graphs and tables are not part of the word count.
Things that you should include or avoid in the results:
The results you obtained MUST be described in words as well, referring to your graphs and tables. Just graphs and tables will not suffice in this section. Thus, first describe your results in words and then place your tables and/or graphs!
6. DISCUSSION (40%)
Approx. 675-745 words
This is the most important section of your report. Here you should analyse the data in light of available literature. Your discussion should link to your introduction and aims. Synthesising the information from literature and your results should show broad background reading and lateral thinking. Questions to consider while writing your discussion: Please use it as a tick √ list:
• What were the main objectives of this study?
• What are your key findings?
• How does the data compare to each other (for example, if you are asked to compare groups) and the literature?
• Did you achieve your aims/hypothesis?
• Are your findings what you expected? (what was your research hypothesis?)
• Are your findings supported by the literature?
• Are any results not expected? What could have caused that?
• How do your results fit the literature in regards to human physiology and pathophysiology?
Your discussion section should not just be a restatement of the results but should emphasize interpretation of the data in the light of the initial aims, relating them to existing theory and knowledge (published literature). You should concentrate on keeping your discussion focused on the interpretation of your OWN results and your explanations should be brief and very relevant, and you should try to draw your own conclusions. You should try to explain all of your observations as much as possible, focusing on physiology mechanisms. You should also consider how your findings or observations apply in a broader physiological sense in order to demonstrate that you have understood the principles clearly.
Speculation is appropriate, if it is so identified. In writing this section, you should explain the logic that allows you to accept or reject your original hypotheses. You should also be able to suggest future experiments that might clarify areas of doubt in your results. You may also want to address the question of the reliability of techniques used and sources of possible errors in the results (limitations). Suggestions for the improvement of techniques or experimental design may also be included here.
Remember, the data you obtain is never “wrong”; there are no right answers in research. You have to try to explain what you found and, if the results do not fit with current theory or previously published findings, you may have to check your calculations and techniques used.
7. CONCLUSION (5%)
Approx. 75-113 words
This section should be a brief (few sentences) summary of key findings from your discussion. It should be the take home message from your results.
8. REFERENCES (5%)
This section is not part of your word count. However, it is essential to have a minimum of 6 references for a good report. References should be used to support your statements in your introduction and discussion mainly. They are to show from where you draw your information. Use peer-reviewed books and articles as your sources. Do not use websites.
Please use the modified Harvard system when completing your references. Include your references in text and at the end of your report as a list. The website: https://www.citethemrightonline.com/ contains some pointers on how to do this. Download the reference management software that MDX provides (https://libguides.mdx.ac.uk/c.php?g=322087&p=2155794). This will save hours of work and frustration on citing correctly and referencing your work! It’s a MUST!
Follow this link to see the various existing reference manager software: https://www.g2.com/categories/reference-management
You must list all references used in the lab report in this section using the recognised format chosen by the University. You MUST use only ONE referencing style within a piece of work
Writing Style (7.5%)
Other to the sections, it is important to use a correct writing style. The report should be written in impersonal, objective way. Use of passive voice can help with this (e.g. I did this – This was done). Facts from literature should be stated in the present tense. Report of your method and results should be done in the past tense. Another point of writing style is that the text should follow a logical, coherent structure. You should be concise and precise in your writing. Your text should be within the requested word limit.
Academic Writing & Numeracy Support: https://unihub.mdx.ac.uk/study/writing-numeracy Make an appointment if you feel you need it!
General Comments on Style, Things to do and Things to avoid
1. Each section (e.g., abstract, introduction, methods, etc.,) should have a title. Subheadings always help, (makes reading easier to follow) so use them.
2. Try to be consistent with the abbreviations and follow the correct format used in textbooks.
3. Use the metric system of measurements.
4. The word data is plural while datum is singular. This affects the choice of a correct verb.
5. Numbers should be written as numerals when they are greater than ten or when they are associated with measurements; for example, 6 mm or 2 g but two explanations of six factors. When one list includes numbers over and under ten, all numbers in the list may be expressed as numerals; for example, 17 runners, 13 rowers, and 2 dancers. Never start a sentence with numerals. Spell all numbers beginning sentences.
6. Divide paragraphs correctly and use starting and ending sentences that indicate the purpose of the paragraph. A report or a section of a report should not be one long paragraph. It makes reading difficult.
7. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb.
8. Avoid using the first person, I or we, in writing. Keep your writing impersonal, in the third person. It is a convention in science writing to use the passive voice. In other words, instead of writing “I performed the test/I took the measurement …….” you should write “The tests were performed…..”. Avoid writing “our/my results showed…”, you MUST write “the results showed…”. It is not you that shows a value from your analyses but the results, you are explaining the results but again is best (not a MUST) that again you use third person.
9. Avoid the use of slang and the overuse of contractions.
10. Avoid using references in your Abstract.
11. Avoid writing an essay on the subject area in question. Avoid being descriptive and superficial, demonstrate that you can critique the work BUT PLEASE avoid being overcritical and harsh in academic writing.
12. Avoid vague statements.
13. Your concluding comment should always support YOUR OWN findings!
14. The results you include in the results section should support your conclusions or statements and arguments you made in the discussion.
15. Do not draw conclusions in the results section. Reserve data interpretation for the discussion.
16. In the discussion you should ONLY discuss the results you included in the report.
Marking Criteria 1-4
Title – (2.5%) Excellent Title Good Title Title Unclear No Title
Abstract – (5%) Excellent abstract which clearly summarised the whole report. Good abstract but could be more focused and utilise a key element from all of the sections. Problems with clarity of and structure of abstract.
Abstract is superficial unfocussed and lacks specificity
Introduction – (10%) Excellent introduction – Clear links to wider theory and key aspects of homeostasis.
Good introduction – some positives but some things omitted or unnecessary Problems with clarity of and structure of introduction.
The introduction is not a short review of relevant physiology.
Aims and Hypothesis – (5%) Excellent Hypothesis – Clearly indicates the scientific enquiry approach. Good Hypothesis – Phrased like something will happen instead of nothing will happen. Problems with clarity of the hypothesis.
Aims or hypothesis missing
Methods – (5%) Excellent approach to the method – Clearly outlines the stages and events so it could be replicated. Good methods but some refinement needed. Need to address what was done and how so another person could replicate it. Problems with clarity of the methods Methods lack enough detail to enable someone to repeat the experiment.
Results – Presentation of appropriate tables and or graphical summaries of the data (15%) Excellent presentation of data. Good presentation of data although includes some errors. Fair presentation of data although includes many errors Incorrect or inappropriate presentation of data
Discussion – (40%) Excellent Discussion.
Explored the results in light of theory and effectively linking to introduction. Evidence of lateral thinking. Provided strong additional material. Mentioned Homeostasis. Good Discussion. Some evidence of analysis or interrogation of the results but this needed further development and closer links to the literature. Problems with the clarity and understanding of discussion. Not enough analysis or linking to literature. To descriptive and not analytical. No analysis of results presented or comparison to the literature.
Conclusion – (5%) Excellent conclusion of your lab report. Including statements summarising what was mentioned in the discussion Good conclusion of your lab report. The conclusion is not sufficiently reporting the data presented No conclusion or a conclusion that is not relevant to your report
References are cited correctly within the text and the reference list is complete (5 %) References are correct. Good attempt at reference List. Some refinement needed to comply with Harvard convention. A range of references but limited reading use of journals. References are not correct or not cited
Clearly and succinctly written with scholarly presentation (7.5%) Excellent presentation. The paper is the required word count Good presentation but some areas could be improved. The paper is the required word count Many aspects of the presentation need to be improved. The paper is the required word count Poor presentation that interferes with the interpretation of the report. Or The paper is above or below the required word count.