Equipment and materials. The method section provides a description
of the equipment and materials used during experimentation. For
example, scientists may note solution concentrations, specific research
techniques or sampling procedures, as well as model and catalog
numbers of equipment used during experimentation. Scientists generally
provide the species name and a brief description of any living organism
used in their experiment.
Observations and measurements. Experimental measurements
and observations are also reported in the methods section. Here,
scientists mention any unexpected developments or observations.
They also explain what data was collected and how and when their
measurements were obtained. Imagine that a scientist is investigating
the influence of exercise on blood osmolality. Their data collection
would be described precisely in the methods section and would read
something like this: blood osmolality was measured at 1, 2, and
3 hrs after exercise using a vapor pressure osmometer.
Methods of data analysis. Experimental data are generally
evaluated using statistical tests and computer programs. The methods
section usually specifies the type of statistical analysis used
to assess data. The results are not discussed at this point in the
Experimental design. Scientists also use the methods section
to explain the strategy of their study. This strategy is known as
the "experimental design" and is the foundation of any
scientific investigation. Because experimental design is so important
to the success and validity of a scientific paper, we will discuss
it in greater detail on the next page.
Click here to learn about the experimental
design of a scientific paper.