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A - Planning

1.       Start by brainstorming a strategy. What will you change, measure and keep the same. You should not include this part in the write-up.

2.     Make the aim of your investigation clear at the start of the plan and briefly outline your strategy for finding the answer.

3.     Describe the method in clear, logical steps so that someone else could follow it successfully without having to make a decision for himself or herself.

4.     Each step in your plan must have a full explanation for why you will do it. There must be a reason for every step based on scientific knowledge.

This will include:

  • The factor you will vary to find out its effect (independent variable).
  • The observations and measurements you will make to get your answer (dependent variables).
  • The variables you must control and the precautions you must take to make the data valid. Valid means that it is a fair test and you are really achieving your aim. Use a table like the one below to help you structure this:-

Variable to control

How to control it

Why I must control it

     
  • The number and range of measurements you will need to be able to make a good conclusion.
  • A control that you should do. Controls are used to discount any unknown factors that might affect the outcome. You have to decide if unknown factors are likely in your investigation and therefore if you need a control.

5.     You donít need to list the apparatus you intend to use because you will have described its use clearly in the method.

6.     A blank results table should be used to ensure that you have included the range and extent of data that you intend to collect.

7.     Say how you will analyse the data with detailed descriptions of calculations, graphs and statistics. Make it clear why you are using them and how they will help you make your conclusions.

8.     Make a prediction and support it with detailed scientific knowledge. Try to include relevant information from several areas of the specification. This part of the method gains marks for skill E as well as skill A.

B - Implementing

1.       Describe all the precautions you took to ensure that your data was reliable. Reliable means that you have a high degree of confidence that your data is consistent.

2.     Make sure that you have enough, reliable data to make a conclusion.

3.     Record your data clearly so that it can be understood. You should be able to make the main conclusion by looking at the table.

4.     Column 1 has the independent variable. The dependent variables are placed to the right of this column.

5.     Donít put calculations in the table, show equations somewhere else, do not produce pages of sums.

6.     Draw the table with a pencil and a ruler. If you use ICT, this is no excuse for an untidy table. Make sure that columns line up, and borders are separated with lines.

7.     Make sure that the table has informative headings and units at the top of the columns.

C - Analysing

1.       Process your results using appropriate calculations to enable you to make a conclusion.

2.     Use an appropriate graph that helps you analyse the pattern of your results and make a conclusion supported by the data.

3.     The graph must be properly constructed with the independent variable on the X axis. Make proper use of the paper by using appropriate scales.

4.     Include your descriptive statistics on the graph.

5.     If you cannot control Excel sufficiently well to produce an appropriate graph, get your pencil and ruler out and do it on graph paper. Excel does not know any biology so do not ask it to produce a trend line.

6.     Identify regions on your graph where something different is happening.

7.     Make a clear conclusion that is supported by the data and use the data to back it up.

8.     Describe and explain all the patterns shown by the data using your scientific knowledge. You should give the bigger picture by considering a wide range of background information in your explanations.

9.     Compare the outcome of the investigation with patterns that you might have expected using a secondary source.

10.  Use a statistical test to support your conclusion or to reject your hypothesis. Include this after the other conclusions so that you can make a final conclusion about your confidence in the data and your findings.

D - Evaluating

1.       Describe the limitations of the method and the apparatus. These are things that might make the data unreliable or invalid.

2.     Do not mention mistakes that you think you made.

3.     Do not blame your teachers or the weather or your headache.

4.     Look critically at the data you collected and assess its reliability. Use the limitations you have described to explain why the data may not be precise or correct.

5.     Say how the data has been affected by the limitations. Try to say if the real answer is likely to be higher or lower than your data suggests and by how much.

6.     Decide if you can be certain about your conclusion given the limitations in the apparatus, techniques and data you have described. Describe how the conclusion has been affected by these factors.

7.     Be prepared to say that you cannot make a safe conclusion and say why.

E - Synthesis of principles and concepts

1.       Brainstorm any biological principles and concepts that are linked to the investigation.

2.     Include all the principles and concepts linked to your investigation in your report and explain why they are relevant.

3.     Check your spelling and make sure that you have used proper terms for the processes in the report.

4. Think about including explanations that include the physical factors on the shore, the biological factors, sources of the variation you discovered, natural selection and adaptations of the limpets.