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Method

This section briefly reports the steps that you followed in carrying out the experiment. Do not repeat word for word what is in the lab notes but concisely summarise in your own words the key steps which were taken in the experiment.

The Method section describes what was actually done and so the verbs are usually written in the past tense, passive voice (for example, were connected, was measured, was calculated).

When you carry out an experiment, you usually follow a set of instructions. Here are the instructions for an experiment to determine the density of a steel sphere.

Example

Determination of the density of a steel sphere using a balance

  • First find the zero reading of the balance.
  • Then put the sphere in the left pan and put weights into the right pan to bring the pointer to zero and obtain the apparent mass.

If you were writing up the Method section, you would have to change these instructions to a report of what was done. These instructions might then be reported as follows.

Example

Method


First the zero reading of the balance was found. Then the sphere was put in the left pan and weights were added to the right pan to bring the pointer to zero. In this way the apparent mass was found.

In this Method section, the verbs are was found, was put, were added and was found which are all verbs in the past tense using the passive voice.

Change the verb in the instruction to the past tense passive form. For example: change find to was found.

Choose the better of these two examples from the Method section of two student reports.

  1. Method
  2. Connect four resistors with a 10 V supply and measure the open circuit voltage, and the short circuit current between A and B. Determine the voltage and resistance of the Thevenin equivalent circuit.

  3. Method
  4. Four resistors were connected with a 10 V supply and the open circuit voltage was measured. The short circuit current between A and B was also measured. The voltage and resistance of the Thevenin equivalent circuit were determined.

Incorrect!: Connect, measure and determine are instructions, saying what you should do, not a report on the method used.
Correct!: Were connected, was measured and were determined report on the method used.
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