So, my lab week has well and truly got underway so there is no better time to give advice on first year labs.
I think the first thing is to read the manual! Read it not only during the lab but before. You then have chance to Google anything you aren’t sure of or you can even visit the lab convener. By preparing you can often finish the lab early and escape! Or an even better idea is to discuss why you’ve done an experiment and what results it shows with a demonstrator. Something that worked well for me and my lab partner was discussing the lab on the way up to Gibbet Hill and almost planning who would do each task.
When writing the report, break it down. So, do the graphs after you get back. Breaking it down involves doing a couple of sections each day so that you have enough time to proof read your report. It’s best practise to ride your results first so you know the specific background information that you need in the introduction. It sounds crazy but believe me it works best. When writing the results you only really need ~6 sentences. Set the scene and pick out the key points. You can expand on these in the discussion and it cuts out any waffling.
I think some advice that any first or second year needs to know is that labs in these years can seem really really boring. Nothing is guaranteed to work and the experiments aren’t exactly engaging. But stick with it, in your third year of Biomedical Science the lab is really interesting! This year I am essentially acting as a clinician attempting to diagnose three patients. Well not just me, you work in teams of 5. But if you do want more lab experience you can do something called the undergraduate research scheme (URSS) which runs over summer. You email researchers that you would want to work with and hopefully one will offer you a placement.
Anyway, regardless of the degree I think labs can tell you so much about what you want to do in future. I found out that research really wasn’t my thing. But good luck wit your labs!