The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Writing Scientific Reports

Methods Section

Below are some questions to consider for effective methods sections in scientific reports.

How did you study the problem?

  • Briefly explain the general type of scientific procedure you used.

What did you use?

(May be subheaded as Materials)

  • Describe what materials, subjects, and equipment (chemicals, experimental animals, apparatus, etc.) you used. (These may be subheaded Animals, Reagents, etc.)

How did you proceed?

(May be subheaded as Methods or Procedures)

  • Explain the steps you took in your experiment. (These may be subheaded by experiment, types of assay, etc.)

Additional tips:

  1. Provide enough detail for replication. For a journal article, include, for example, genus, species, strain of organisms; their source, living conditions, and care; and sources (manufacturer, location) of chemicals and apparatus.
  2. Order procedures chronologically or by type of procedure (subheaded) and chronologically within type.
  3. Use past tense to describe what you did.
  4. Quantify when possible: concentrations, measurements, amounts (all metric); times (24-hour clock); temperatures (centigrade)

What to avoid:

  1. Don't include details of common statistical procedures.
  2. Don't mix results with procedures.