Updated December 11, 2012
Lab reports are required for all labs. The main purpose of lab reports is to assess what the student learned and the understanding he or she obtained while completing the lab. The secondary objective is to give students experience writing papers in scientific format (and receive feedback on them), which is an essential skill in bioinformatics. Many students in the field do not master this skill and are therefore not taken as seriously.
Reports should be written in standard scientific format. The sections of a standard scientific format include:
The purposes of each section are described below. Points may be deducted for excessive spelling or grammatical errors. Please include headings and labels in your report. Scientific reports should be single spaced. Your report should be between 1 and 3 pages in addition to any data that you obtained (ORF results, alignments, etc.) from your test trials.
The introduction section should include the background of your report. Put this lab in global context. Think about this problem in historical perspective. Consider questions such as:
The procedure section should include information on your implementation of the project. Explain the algorithm you used in a way that someone who doesn't know your programming language of choice would understand (omit specifics such as variables and subroutine names). You may want to include pseudocode. Mention the asymptotic behavior of your algorithm. Describe your reasons for using the algorithm you used. Was it the only way you could think of to do it? Was it better than the alternatives for some reason or another?
Briefly note the modules or libraries you used, why you used them, and any additional benefits or drawbacks they have.
Explain how you evaluated your algorithm. Why do you think your method is a good evaluator? How might it compare to other methods you can think of?
Provide output and evaluation data (if applicable) from your project. If time allows, include data from varying inputs and parameters. How long did your program take to run (with varying inputs)? Describe your data and what they mean. Where possible (and applicable), use tables and graphs to clearly present results. If your raw data require more than a half of a page, include them in an appendix and refer to them.
Describe your experience with this program and answer any questions posed in the lab description. Consider the following questions:
Any data that you obtained that is larger than a few lines should be included in an appendix. Please label your data and refer to it in your results section.
If you used resources (websites, journals, books) other than the course text to complete your project, include them in a bibliography. Cite your sources!