FORMAL LAB REPORT: Determining a Dose Response Curve
As part of this lab module, you will be required to create a formal report discussing the experiment in which you grew a sunflower and measured its height
and weight. This report should focus on the purpose and methods of your experiment, a discussion of energy conversion between trophic levels, and a
discussion of the impacts of food production and agriculture on a person’s ecological footprint. In your report, present all pertinent results and conclude with
an assessment of your findings. Your lab manual will help in providing some general information and context, but your formal report will rely largely on your
synthesis and interpretation of information you have learned in the lab and lecture classes.
A formal lab report is a record of your scientific activities and should include the following:
I. Abstract: This is a summary of your entire paper. A good rule of thumb is to write the abstract last and limit it to 1-2 sentences for each section of your
II. Introduction: This section provides a context for your reader. In the introduction, you should discuss an overview of toxicology: what are toxins, how are
they encountered, why are we interested in studying them? Include in your introduction a discussion of toxin examples, at what dosage they may become
toxic, and how we might encounter them. Also include a thorough introduction to what a dose response curve, and why it is important in helping us study
medicines. Finally, this section should be organized to clearly describe the context and purpose of your flour beetle experiment.
III. Methods: This section describes the materials and procedures you used to conduct your experiment. Your goal here is to be as thorough in your
explanation as possible, leaving no room for interpretation on the part of the reader. As you explain your procedure, you should also include a justification for
the methods you chose. Provide background information on the ecology of a blackworm. Why are blackworms good candidates for this experiment and not
other organisms? What scientific assumptions did you have to make when setting up the experiment? (NOTE: This is not an all-inclusive list. Do NOT simply
answer these questions with a simple confirmation. You should expect to think critically about other aspects of the methods that you need to include.
IV. Data and Analysis: In this section, you present all relevant data and any analyses of these raw data that you performed. YOUR DATA SHOULD BE
ORGANIZED AND EASY TO READ. BE THOROUGH. You will be expected to make connections and show critical thought in what data you convey. You will be
expected to include FIGURES. The style graph or chart, and what data you should represent is up to you. Every table and graph you show must be discussed
in the text. (NOTE: Do not make interpretations here! This is not where you tell the reader what the data means, just what it is and point out connections
between various variables.)
V. Discussion: In this section, you add your own interpretation of the experiment. What does the data tell us regarding the understanding of a dose-response
curve? What challenges did you encounter in collecting data and how did you account for these challenges? How does that relate to understanding of
toxins/medicines developed for human use? (NOTE: This is not an all-inclusive list.) Why might conducting experiments like these be important for
scientists? Think beyond the data itself and consider what it shows about our own population, and what other important impacts that can have. REMEMBER:
These are NOT ALL the things that you should be discussing in your paper. I expect you to think critically to find other considerations and tie points.
VI. Conclusions: This is typically a short section wherein you summarize your entire paper. In this section, you should demonstrate that you understand the
experiment itself as well as the broader context. You should be brief and to the point in your conclusion and demonstrate what you learned by doing the lab.
VII. Citations: Finally, your report needs to properly cite any outside resources you used to get information. You may use any style you wish but be consistent
in your style (i.e. if you choose MLA-style citations, stick with that style!) Do NOT simply copy-and-paste a URL address into the citation section and call it a
day. Citations should include an author, date of publication, etc. Refer to the academic resources content module to find information on proper resource
citations. As you include information in your report, be sure to refer to these citations in parentheses. (Author, date) (e.g. Ullrich, 2021)
Remember, if you didn’t think of it yourself, you need to cite a source!!!! I take plagiarism very seriously.
1. Your report should be formatted according to the following guidelines:
a. 11-pt font in standard style (Calibri, Times New Roman, etc. Anything that isn’t odd or distracting)
b. 1.5 spacing (you will have to adjust this. It’s not single-spaced, nor double-spaced)
c. 0.5” margins
d. Title centered at top of report
e. Page numbers in footer of document
f. Parenthetical citations in text as needed (Author, date)
2. Images (figures), Tables, and Graphs
a. Incorporate into text. They should be readily seen when you refer to them in text.
b. Title and caption each figure, table, graph, etc. (e.g. Fig. 27: Stream Location #4) This can be accomplished by inserting a textbox into the document, lining
it up the way you want with a figure, then grouping the figure and textbox together (select both, right-click, and select “Groups”).
3. Writing style
a. Remember, this is science writing. The purpose is to communicate information thoroughly without the possibility for misinterpretation. You don’t need to
provide elaborate imagery, just the necessary information.
b. I may be reading your report, but I am not your “audience.” Your audience is someone with very little background in this subject, or how/why your study was
conducted. This is who you should be writing to. In other words, pretend you are explaining all of this to a classmate who missed the lab. Would they be able
to understand what you did and what the importance of such an ecological study is? You can assume they have some basic knowledge of terms and
principles in ecology, but otherwise they are clueless.
4. Formatting issues
a. Sometimes, when copying and pasting/moving items in your report, the formatting will change. This can be very frustrating and take time to overcome.
Keep formatting simple, and group visual material with their captions.
b. When saving, save the document, but also save it as a PDF for submission. This will prevent changes in formatting when the PDF is opened on another