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Tip: In general the more complex an experiment, the more background required (even to the point of including a separate background section, as seen in some of the sample articles on the 2.671 website).
Check out the Abstract Worksheet on the 2.671 website for a step-by-step method for writing your abstract (filling out this worksheet will be required for future abstract writing assignments).
Pitfalls to avoid: Wordiness, providing too much or too little motivation for your project (ask technical instructors if you are unsure), and failure to include a relevant conclusion.
Tip: Because writers consider the abstract the most difficult and important piece of their papers, abstracts are always written AFTER you have written your ENTIRE report.
Save time at the end of your process to write a credible abstract.
Tip: Because headings and subheadings vary according to each experiment, the guidelines for this section of your report cover solely the few pieces that appear in every journal article. The experimental procedure section includes a description of the apparatus.
DO NOT label these subsections as Apparatus and Methodinstead assign unique subheadings that correspond to your intellectual and technical approach and incorporate the description of apparatus and your methods into each subheading. A block diagram and/or photograph of the apparatus must be included.Methods and results dont correspond (provide methods for all the results you report). Do not over-label your photograph; some of the labels used on photographs in the lab instructions are much too detailed for inclusion in a Journal Article.Forgetting to use visual organizers to direct readers to specific aspects of the methods section, e.g., subheads, photos of apparatus, etc. In many cases, the clearest approach will be to present a block diagram enhanced by one or more photographs of the apparatus in the same figure.Pitfalls to avoid: Providing too little or too much information. Write your description of the apparatus in present tense, since presumably the apparatus still exists!Writing strictly in chronological order (alternatives: most important steps first, most fundamental steps first, etc.). Format: If a photograph is used, important elements of the apparatus must be clearly labeled. Readers typically decide whether or not to read a paper based on their impressions of the abstract.Consequently, the abstract can be the most important part of your report.(You may use the Word Count tool in the Tools menu in MS Word to count the words in your abstract.) Typically the Abstract is placed on its own page, before the first page of the report.In the interest of saving paper, however, the 2.671 Journal Article Introduction can immediately follow the Abstract on the same page (numbered 1).In published journal articles, there are at least two citations required in the introduction that support the need for your research and experiments, or show upon which theories your experiment relies.Make sure to include at least two citations in your 2.671 reports (not required for the Soda Can lab paper).