HOW TO WRITE AN UNKNOWN LAB REPORT IN MICROBIOLOGY
Unknown reports in microbiology are written in scientific format. Scientific writing is written differently from other types of writing. The results of the exercise or experiment are what are being showcased, not the writing. The purpose of scientific writing is not to entertain, but to inform. The writing should be simple and easy to understand. There is a specific style that must be followed when writing scientific reports.
Scientific writing is typically written in the passive voice. The pronouns "I", "We" and "They" are not typically used.. For example, instead of writing "I used a TSA agar plate to isolate my unknown," it is customary to write, "A trypticase soy agar (TSA) plate was used to isolate the unknown."
It is also customary to write in the past tense for most of the report. This includes the introduction, the summary, the description of the materials and methods and the results. The present tense is reserved for the conclusions about the results. See the examples given below. Some other general rules that should be followed are:
Microbial nomenclature: The name of the bacterium should written and spelled correctly. The name should be italicized or underlined. Italicized is preferred. For example, Staphylococcus aureus. The genus is capitalized but the species is not. After the full genus name is given in the paper, it can be written as S. aureus, but still italicized. This is as long as there in no other genera in the paper that starts with the same letter.
PARTS TO THE UNKNOWN LAB REPORT
(Note: Other than the title page, the pages of the report must be numbered) TITLE PAGE
There should always be a title page and should include the following information: EXAMPLE OF TITLE PAGE
Title should be centered and at the top or in the middle of the page UNKNOWN LAB REPORT # 1
This information should be centered and at the bottom part of the title page: UNKNOWN LETTER (OR NUMBER)
DATE (the due date)
LAB INSTRUCTOR'S NAME
SEMESTER / YEAR
This section introduces the reader to the study and why the study was done. This should only be a few sentences long.
Example: "There are many reasons for knowing the identity of microorganisms. The reasons range from the knowing the causative agent of a disease in a patient, so as to know how it can be treated, to knowing the correct microorganism to be used for making certain foods or antibiotics. This study was done by applying all of the methods that have been learned so far in the microbiology laboratory class for the identification of an unknown bacterium." MATERIALS AND METHODS
This is where the details of the study are listed. Where did the specimen come from, and what methods were used to identify it? Be specific, but do not re write the lab manual. One way is to mention the names of the materials used and reference the lab manual for the procedure or method and then continue to elaborate when necessary. See example 1. Example 1: "An unknown labeled as letter G was given out by the lab instructor. The methods that have been learned thus far for identifying bacteria have been applied to this unknown. Procedures were followed as stated in the course laboratory manual by De Mers (1), unless otherwise noted.
The first procedure that needed to be done was to streak the unknown out on a Trypticase Soy Agar plate, using the T streak method described in the lab manual.. This needed to be done in order to test the purity of the unknown. After the plates were incubated and grown, the morphology was observed and recorded and a Gram stain was performed. Quality control bacteria were Gram stained along with the unknown to make sure that the Gram stain reaction was done correctly . After determining the Gram reaction, specific biochemical tests were performed. The biochemical...
References: 1. De Mers, Marlene. Fundamentals of Microbiology Laboratory Manual, 4 th edition. San
Diego: Montezuma publishing, 2004
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