Guidelines to Experimental Report Write-ups

The experimental write-ups should be between 3 to 5 pages. They should have the following structure: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusions. Certain information needs to be included in each section as detailed below. In your write-up, pretend that you were the experimenter (and not just the subject), and as the experimenter you have some hypothesis that the experiment is designed to answer. In writing your report, make sure that it is clear what this question was, what was done to attempt to answer it, what results were obtained, and what those results have to say about the original question.

I. Introduction

What is the question under study? What do you want to know? (2-3 short paragraphs). The purpose of the introductory section is to state the hypothesis clearly and succinctly. Tell us what question the experiment is designed to answer. Include relevant background material. This is the place to mention relevant experiments, if any, upon which the current experiment is based. In general, the introductions presented with the experiments you will be running contain information that will be useful. DO NOT QUOTE THEM DIRECTLY. Use your own words. Make sure that you write using complete sentences (e.g., at minimum, subject, verb, object). Do not use words whose definitions you do not know or understand, and do not use more words than necessary. There is elegance in simplicity. Read your sentences aloud to yourself. If a word is unnecessary to get your point across, delete it (this holds for all sections).

II. Methods

What did you do? How did you do it? What was the experimental procedure? (2 or more paragraphs depending on the experiment). The first paragraph should explain the basic environment where the experiment took place. Be explicit. ("Subjects sat in a comfortable chair 3 feet from a monochrome computer monitor."). Subsequent paragraphs should specifically address each task the subject was required to perform. The Methods section should be written so that someone reading the report could replicate (duplicate) the experiment based on this description. What was done and in what order? Start with an overall description of the design. Then provide details about numbers of trials and timing. Make sure you describe what goes on in a single trial.

III. Results

What did you get (quantitatively speaking)? (2 or more paragraphs depending on the experiment). This is where you present the results of the tasks described in the Methods section. INCLUDE NUMBERS. Charts and graphs go into this section, and they must be labeled. Tell us what each axis represents. Remember, the charts are only a visual reference. If you use information from sources other than the experiment or the class text, you should include a Reference section with bibliographic information at the end of your report; however, it is not required if you do not have additional citations.


IV. Discussion (or Conclusions)

End your report by summarizing your conclusions. Include a clear statement of whether or not the results support the current hypothesis. Relate your conclusions back to your introduction, and if appropriate connect up your findings with results from previous studies. Describe the theoretical consequences of the study/findings. (1-2 paragraphs depending on the experiment).





Title of Experiment:
Experiment #



    1. Does the introduction include a discussion of the theoretical relevance of the experiment? Include previous research, researchers and their findings pertaining to the current experiment.
    2. Is there a clear statement of the specific hypothesis being tested by the current experiment?
    3. Is the tie-in between the theoretical question and the question addressed by the hypothesis highlighted?
    4. Is there a clear explanation of the logic of the experimental design (a brief explanation of the task and how the experiment tests the hypothesis)?
    5. Does the introduction include clear predictions as to what might happen (i.e., what the possible outcomes might be)?



    1. Who were the subjects?
    2. What apparatus/experimental set-up was used in conducting the experiment?
    3. What was the procedure? Describe the task, including information about the stimulus presentation and response type.



    1. Does the Results section begin with a statement of main result/findings?
    2. Are the data described quantitatively and qualitatively?
    3. Are all figures and tables labeled clearly?



    1. Does the discussion include a clear statement of whether or not the results support the current hypothesis?
    2. Does this section include a discussion of the relationship between the current results and previous findings, as mentioned in the introduction?
    3. Are the results evaluated and interpreted (SENSIBLY!)?
    4. Are the theoretical consequences of the study/findings explored?



**** Use at least 10 pt. type and double space and NUMBER the pages ****
5 page maximum (not including graph)


Websites where you can find out more about experimental reports in general:

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