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Scientific paper
Your assignment is to write up a Methods section of a scientific paper describing the experiment that internal students at Macquarie University undertook in a practical. The students were enrolled in the class Introduction to Brain, Behaviour and Evolution.
A Methods section, as you might expect, describes the methods that were used to do the experiment. It is written in paragraphs, not point form of any kind, and describes what happened in the experiment. Because the experiment has been done already, the writing is in past tense pretty much throughout. Note that you are describing, so that the writing is not like a recipe. You should not write: Do A, then do B …
A standard for evaluating whether you have included enough in the methods is whether someone reading your section has enough information to reproduce the experiment. Keep this in mind as you look over what you have written.
The style should be formal, as found in scientific papers. Sections of a scientific paper (typically Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) are often divided into subsections; this is especially common with the Methods section. The passive form (e.g., X was done), is not necessary. It is not demanded by journals, and some journals actively frown upon this form of writing methods, preferring the active voice. In using the active voice, pretend that your team actually carried out the experiment. If you cite another published work, then you need to put this publication in a reference section. We do not, however, expect any citations for this exercise.
We strongly suggest that you look at a published paper, and read its Methods section for a model. A good example is a recent paper on the very theme of the lab exercise is:
Coelho, C. J., Nussbaum, H. C., Rosenbaum, D. A., & Fenn, K. M. (2012). Imagined actions aren’t just weak actions: Task variability promotes skill learning in physical practice but not in mental practice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 38(6), 1759-1764. (Added to CDs, but not allowed on iLearn.)