Lab Discussion

Discussion (actually type Discussion in the report as subsection title, skip a line, then begin typing) Start with a once-sentence recap of research goal and approach (not a copy/paste from results) This section is probably the most important part of the paper and oftentimes worth the most points. It is where you interpret/explain the data you wrote about in the Results section. In this section, convince your reader that your data actually demonstrate something of value. Here is where you want to provide examples, use detail, previously accepted scientific rationale, specificity, and use critical analysis. As in the results section, organize your discussion by groups of data and present them in the same order that you did in the results. There will be some repetition and overlap with other sections but that’s ok, as long as you are not copy/pasting verbatim. For each group or major trend of data presented in the results (i.e. each table, figure or text description), you must discuss what it means. What did you predict and why? Did everything go as planned? For this class, prompts covered on lab handouts and in group discussions provide you with a very good idea of what to expect/should have expected. You might, however, find that in your hands the experiment didn’t work as expected. When this happens, be sure to talk about your expectations as well as the data you actually collected; Speculate any discrepancies between the two. Scientifically, what does your data indicate, with regard to the hypothesis. GET OUT OF THE HABIT OF BLAMING HUMAN ERROR. There is always a scientific meaning to any piece of data. Here’s a general template for each group of data (to be modified as appropriate):
1. Clearly state hypothesis/prediction for that group and back up with scientific rationale (and reference) 2. Recap the main trend observed and any KEY pieces of data (even though you did this in the results section. Remember to put (Figure x) or (Table y) ANYTIME you point out a trend or data. 3. Clearly state whether data supported your prediction/hypothesis. If it did: Explain what that means and why, scientifically, those specific results occurred. If it did not: Come up with detailed, scientific reasons explaining why the specific results you obtained, in fact, turned out the way they did. Claiming human error is not suffice This means you might have to do some background research. If the experiment did not work at all, you must talk about what you expected to see and why. 4. If written properly and if data is critically analyzed/explained and rationalized, this section will contain many references. Once you are done discussing all major data, and no matter what the outcome of your experiment, be sure to end with a conclusion (1-2 sentences) that summarizes the overall finding of your entire study and how it can potentially applies to some bigger field of science research, i.e. a disease, a biological process, drug development, farming, ecology, environment etc. Make sure the broader implications still relate to the study at hand. i.e. A study on photosynthetic proteins, may impact agriculture or the environment, but convincing the reader that there is a connection between this study and outer space is a stretch, or vaguely just indicating that “this research can have implications to diseases” is boring, uninformative and useless. Finish strong! How can this novel finding apply to human health, world/environmental health, evolution etc? Leave the reader feeling that, yes, this research study and its findings are significant and important to SPECIFIC world issues. Now insert a page break, and start the next section at the top of a brand new page

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