Unknown reports in microbiology are written in scientific format. Scientific writing is different from other types of writing in that the results of the exercise or experiment 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, and it should be written in your OWN WORDS. Copying and pasting work from other students, or any other sources is plagiarism. Citing work
There is a specific style that must be followed when writing scientific reports. Click to read about references and plagiarism.
Scientific writing is typically written in the passive voice. The pronouns I, we, and they are not used. For example, instead of writing I used a TSA plate to isolate my unknown. It is customary to write, A tryptic 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 summary, introduction, description of materials and methods, and the results. The present tense is reserved for the conclusions and results. Some other general rules that should be followed are:
The name of the bacterium should be written out and spelled correctly.
The name should be italicized for typed text. For example, Staphylococcus aureus.
The genus is capitalized but the species is not. After the full genus name is first used in the paper, it can be written as S. aureus, but still italicized. This is as long as there is no other genus in the paper that starts with the same letter. For example, if you have a Staphylococcus species and a Salmonella species as your unknowns, you cannot abbreviate the name.
The report should be typed using a 12-point with a font such as Arial, and should be 1.5-spaced. The lab report will be graded on content, as well as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and organization.
MATERIALS AND METHODS (SKIP IT)
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 rewrite the lab manual. One way is to mention the names of the media and reagents used, and reference the lab manual or notes for the procedure or method, and elaborate when necessary. It is NOT necessary to write out the methods in detail, since this lab report is for the identification of an unknown bacterium and the methods are explained in detail in the lab workbook.
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