The methods section is where you describe how you got the results you did. This section should provide enough information so that someone could replicate your experiments. Leave out irrelevant and obvious details. For example:

Original: Emma put the tube in the centrifuge with the hinge on the outside and then waited for Ben from another group to put his tube opposite it. Then Emma turned the centrifuge on and set it to spin at 10,000 rpm for 5 min.

Revised: The tube was centrifuged for 5 min at 10,000 rpm.  

Your lab manual provides you with a protocol or step-by-step instructions for completing the experiments. When you come to write the methods section in your report you need to turn these instructions into a short narrative. Each experiment presented in the methods section should be mentioned in the results and discussion sections.  Use informative sub-headings to help guide your reader through the methods section of your report.

Protocol vs methods section


Click on the bars below to see examples of methods sections.




Are the following sentences suitable for the methods section or for a laboratory protocol?

1. For all ECG recordings, the subject was lying supine, palms upturned and breathing normally.

2. Record the subject’s heart rate using the Finger Pulse Transducer (FPT) and Chart software.

3. Heart rate was measured throughout the experiments using the Finger Pulse Transducer (FPT) and Chart software.

4. Dilute 100µl of DNA in 100 mM phosphate buffer (pH 7.4).