The page will support you in satisfying Writing Learning Objective:
METHODS - Present experimentation processes accurately and concisely.
You should be able to:
List all equipment necessary to conduct an experiment.
Outline the procedure to be followed to conduct an experiment.
Reference standards as necessary to conduct a test.
Why do we describe methods in detail?
The goal of a methods section is to give the reader the ability to replicate the experiment or activity you describe. A methods section clearly identifies the tools and procedures used to conduct an experiment. It will include a detailed list of equipment and a procedure that details how the equipment was used to generate the results you will report.
How do we list equipment?
A bulleted or enumerated list is common.
Manufacturer names are often provided.
In some cases, tables can be used to provide important technical details of the equipment, like operating range, precision, or other limitations.
How do we describe a procedure?
Procedures are often a list of steps, so an enumerated list is the simplest approach:
State the first step.
State the second step.
State the third step.
Some procedures are provided in a test standard (like those published by ASTM, AASHTO, IEEE, ISO, or others). The standard can be referenced and summarized with any deviations explained.
Other tests are relatively complex and benefit from being depicted in a flowchart.
How can we make our methods clear?
Using photographs and schematics is very common in engineering documentation in general and in a methods section specifically.
Annotating photographs can be a very effective way of identifying important parts of equipment, as shown in Figure 1.
Schematics can be used to describe equipment and the arrangement of equipment in a way that others can see how equipment or components are connected or used together.
Electrical engineering students will often use circuit diagrams and wiring diagrams.
Figure 1. Photograph of hardness tester with annotation of important parts.
Writing step-by-step procedures in paragraph form
Failing to incorporate useful photographs
Using language such as "first" and "then" to implicate order of operations when an enumerated list would be clearer and more concise.