20.109(F13): DNA engineering methods

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20.109(F13): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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If you were to leave 20.109 proficient in only two writing skills, we would want them to be figure captions and methods. You will practice both of these essential skills during Module 1, and will be well prepared for the more complex writing tasks of Module 2 if you master them now.

The importance of figure captions is likely self-evident, but you may require some convincing about the importance of methods. The methods section may seem like the easiest section to write and the most boring one to read. Heck, it may even be those things! However, its simplicity – at least compared to other parts of a research article – makes it an excellent scaffold for practicing skills that will serve you well throughout the article. For example, the clarity of the methods section is driven in part by the effectiveness of its sub-section titles and topic sentences; the same can easily be said of the results section, the heart of any investigative report. A useful methods section also requires good choices about what information to include: what is essential to reader understanding and what is merely a distraction? The same question applies to the rest of a research article, but is easier to learn on the methods section because you’re dealing with “just the facts” – not analysis, interpretation, or context. So you see that the simplicity of the methods section is in part deceiving!


Please submit your completed methods on Stellar, with filename Firstinitial_Lastname_LabSection_Mod1.doc (for example, R_Reif_TR_Mod1.doc). Late assignments should be emailed to 20109 DOT submit AT gmail DOT com.

This assignment is due by 5 pm on October 3rd (Thursday) or 4th (Friday), according to which day you have lab.UPDATE: The due date has been extended to October 7th (Monday) at 5 pm for both sections. There is NO revision allowed for this assignment, but you will receive substantive feedback about your work from a laboratory instructor.

You will complete this assignment individually. Please review the 20.109 statement on collaboration and integrity as you proceed.

Content Guidelines

Your methods section should describe only the plasmid constuction phase, not the DNA repair assay phase. In other words, you should describe the work from M1D1-D5.

Please review the scientific writing guidelines related to methods here.