This web page replaces Appendix 11A in the Lab Manual. Note that we no longer do posters in this course. How we grade these reports (i.e., those associated with these specific guidelines) is the subject of this page.
Note that this is one of the truly archived pages for the old Bacteriology 102 course website, and these guidelines are not applicable presently. After 2007, updated guidelines have been included in the lab manuals.
One report is required, and it can be on one of the following experiments: 10.2, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3. (Note that we are no longer doing Exp. 9.3.) A report is strictly an individual project. We have some samples of reports from previous semesters. These are not necessarily meant to be perfect examples to follow, as we continue to increase our expectations.
The more you understand how the characteristics of the various kinds of bacteria can be exploited in order to recover them in pure culture from their natural source, the better will be the information value of your report – in the Introduction and (especially) the Discussion. Filling out the table on the handout (reproduced here) as you go through the experiments will help considerably.
We are interested in what you observed – not what should have been observed in any ideal situation. We do not expect each sample to yield the same number or variety of organisms! There is no "key" for the samples we use, nor should or can there be. For example, do not expect each different colony of photosynthetic bacteria to represent a separate genus. (Even though one might see several different colors or sizes of colonies on the plate, they could be of several species of Rhodobacter.) Likewise, in the Bacillus experiment, each differently-appearing colony on the plates from the heat-shocked inoculum probably represents a different species of Bacillus. We never expect to find the same species or strain we work with in our experiments. If we were still doing Experiment 9.3, we would certainly never expect to find phage strains "JL-1" or "KX-32"!
We insist that terms be used appropriately. Problems often arise regarding singular vs. plural forms (medium vs. media, inoculum vs. inocula, genus vs. genera, etc.) and the correct way to indicate scientific names. A true microbiologist, comfortable with his/her field and regularly doing lab work, never says "media is." See page 149 which summarizes a number of fundamentals; this material is also reproduced here. The concept of scientific names should be familiar material which would have been covered in previous biology courses of any level.
For the reports, you must properly acknowledge the sources of any facts you cite from others. "Quoting, Paraphrasing and Acknowledging Sources" is the title of a handout from the Writing Lab at the Helen C. White Library which we have made available in connection with our discussion of writing formal reports. The expanded handout is on the web here where the most relevant section for us is "Quoting and Paraphrasing." Another relevant section deals with documentation – i.e., referencing which is something we can discuss in lab as needed. The American Society for Microbiology has downloadable referencing guidelines for its journal authors; an example can be found here.
Feel free to use whatever referencing system you wish – just as long as it is consistently applied! However, you must pay heed to the following:
Be careful how items are discussed, especially in the Introduction and Discussion. Avoid "mixing apples and oranges" – an example being the frequently-seen classification of nitrogen-fixing organisms into three groups: non-symbiotic (i.e., free-living), symbiotic, and cyanobacteria. Some cyanobacteria fix nitrogen in symbiotic relationships (e.g., lichens) and the other nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria are free-living. So, the primary groupings of nitrogen-fixing bacteria should just be non-symbiotic and symbiotic. Another thing that is seen too frequently in reports is the statement that nitrogen-fixers "pull" their nitrogen out of the atmosphere. It is mentioned in this fashion in the lab manual, but it is technically not correct and will not be stated in this manner in future editions of the manual.
Your report should follow the format of a typical scientific journal article of which Steenbock Library has thousands. Journals such as Applied and Environmental Microbiology and the Journal of Clinical Microbiology can be consulted to get an overall idea of the format of a scientific paper – how it is arranged in logical sections. (We will not require you to prepare an "abstract.") See how these papers summarize much of their results in tables, and how these tables are referred to from the text of the paper. Another valuable thing one can pick up from these journal papers is how references to other publications are made. Please do not feel you must necessarily use material from journal papers in your report. However, you may find relevant items that can make your report more interesting and informative.
This is to be a formal, typewritten report with references to quoted material appropriately made and organized with labeled sections as indicated below. This is also meant to be a summary of your work. WARNING: It is very easy for seasoned instructors to note replications of phraseology and results between the reports submitted. Also, any indication of procedures which could not possibly have been accomplished will taint the rest of the report and result in a grade of zero for the entire report.
Please type on one side of the page only, and do not use plastic covers. You must make a copy of your report! The instructors do not expect to lose any submitted papers, but making a backup copy is always desirable. As it may take quite awhile for the instructors to read these papers, one can utilize the backup copy as a study aid. If you have problems, be sure to consult the instructor.
An example of a lab report submitted in a previous semester (when our guidelines were not so detailed) can be found here.
OVERALL FORMAT OF THE REPORTS
GRADING THE REPORTS: This topic is covered here.
Pages on the Bacteriology 102 Website have copyright by John Lindquist and found their permanent sanctuary on www.splammo.net in 2001. Subsequently this site was "retired" and archived with the coming of the new largely-virtual 102 lab in 2007. However, updates of content regarding subject matter continue to be inserted as necessary. Absolutely none of these pages have been authorized for reproduction on .edu websites. Beware of web piracy!