An example of a method section in chemistry: Preparation of Methyl 3-Nitrobenzoate
The nitration of methyl benzoate was conducted as follows: concentrated sulphuric acid (12 mL) was cooled to 0 °C and 5.6 mL of methyl benzoate was added. The nitrating mixture (a 50:50 mixture of concentrated sulphuric acid and concentrated nitric acid; 8 mL) was cooled to 5 °C and added dropwise to the methyl benzoate solution with regular temperature checks to ensure the temperature of the solution was maintained between 5-15 °C. The mixture was swirled thoroughly after each addition of nitrating mixture to encourage reaction. Once all the nitrating mixture had been added to the methyl benzoate solution, the temperature of the reaction mixture was allowed to increase to 18-20 °C using a warm water bath and kept at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow the nitration to occur. To collect the methyl 3-nitrobenzoate after nitration had been completed, approximately 50g of cracked ice was weighed into a beaker and the reaction mixture poured over the ice, forming solid methyl-3-nitrobenzoate. The product was collected using Büchner filtration, washed twice using 10 mL ice-cold methanol and dried in a drying oven prior to weighing to calculate the yield.
Writing a method
It is important to understand how to write a method section early in your scientific based studies. Although this example is for chemistry, methods have commonality across the sciences.
This example elaborates on the materials and apparatus section and provides enough detail to allow another chemist to carry out the same experiment. You may wish to draw on examples from journal articles, or others that a tutor may provide, so that it matches your own disciple.
Often University based laboratory reports only need to reference the original source if you were writing for University e.g., ‘as shown in xxxxx laboratory book’. However, it is still important write your work formally as you would for an external report or publication, hence why you are encouraged to write examples such as this.
Note that the writing style is clear, simple and avoids ambiguity. This is typical for any science-based writing.