An Outline of How to Write a Lab Report
Many students have no idea of how to write a lab report. However, this is one of the most popular tasks that students who study science are assigned. Besides, it is a decisive task as it may count up to a quarter of the whole class grade. As you can see it is a rather simple assignment, but very little attention is paid to proper lab report writing. Universities may unintentionally make this assignment a real challenge as they do not provide any standard rules for lab reports. In the end, students have no idea of how to make a lab report, while every single professor has different expectations. Though there may be numerous expectations concerning how a perfect lab report is supposed to look like, they all have a common goal. A student is expected to record the findings of an experiment and explain the significance of the result. Some of the typical critical elements are raw data and a hypothesis. Further, we will discuss the most essential elements of a formal lab report. Being aware of the core components and the purpose of the task, you will easily adopt to any demand of your professor.
The Importance of the Lab Report
So ‘what is a lab report?’ and why it may be that important. If you are a student and you have chosen a laboratory course, then it is likely that in the nearest future you will be assigned a lab report. This task may have a dramatic impact on the final grade; therefore, students should pay more attention to lab report writing. If your instructor or professor gives you a lab report checklist or scheme, then you are extremely lucky. You merely need to follow that checklist. Some professors will ask their students to complete the report in a special lab notebook. So they will ask students to write it separately.
The lab report is meant to depict the findings and observations made during the experiment. You will also need to demonstrate understanding of the lab procedures and related theories. But do not forget to follow an appropriate lab report format.
Lab Report Sections
There is a typical structure of a lab report to follow, if no other instructions are given. If you receive additional information in terms of the sections to include in your lab report, please follow them precisely.
The lab report comprises a title and an abstract. The body consists of such elements as an introduction, materials and methods section, results and discussion. It should end with a conclusion and a reference list as well as appendices, if there are any.
Some of the professors ask to skip this element as they believe that a lab report title page is not that essential. Therefore, if nothing is mentioned in the recommendations provided by the instructor, then you are free to choose whether to write a title page. This single page includes the following information:
- The designated name of the experiment;
- Student`s name (If the lab report is written by a group of students, then you need to include all their names);
- Professor’s name and title;
- The date.
Do not include any extra information, unless it is required by your professor.
The main task of the title is to emphasize the focus of the experiment. The reader gets understanding of what will be described in the report. Avoid long titles and those that lack coherence. Make it as short and informative as possible. Avoid any abbreviations in the title.
How to Write an Abstract for a Lab Report?
One of the most frequently asked questions is ‘how to write an abstract for a lab report?’ The answer is that a lab report abstract is a summary of the whole paper. It should not be longer than 250 words. But if you already know how to write an abstract, then you are familiar with the procedure. In you abstract, you need to speak about the results of the experiment and discuss the choice of the procedures. Do not use any complicated terms in your abstract.
How to Write an Introduction for a Lab Report?
Have you ever wondered how to write an introduction for a lab report? This section is supposed to present the objectives of the argument. Here, you should present a sufficient amount of background data. A hypothesis provides an answer to a specific scientific question. For instance, "The blood pressure is influenced by the stress level." In the lab report introduction, you are supposed to present both the objectives and the hypothesis. The presentation shows your goals and your theory.
Here are some prompts that may help you create a good hypothesis: If you got extra results from a previous test, try to demonstrate the after effects and the impact they have on the present experiment. Some of the theories may provide a bewildering forecast. Briefly state how the experiment and your hypothesis are related.
If the exploration gives answers for existing issues, then you may describe in which way it was achieved.
Don’t mention any results in the introduction. Avoid discussing any background information in this part of the lab report as well.
Materials and Methods
This section is meant to describe all your steps and materials that were used during the experiment. This will help other scientists repeat the same experiment in the future. However, avoid making it a step-by-step account. If a specific method or technique was used, please make sure to have it included in the materials and methods section.
In this section, the writer is supposed to summarize the information and discuss the patterns and trends. He/she ought to make sure to avoid contrasting personal discoveries and those of other researchers. Additionally, don't talk about why your outcomes matched or did not match your predictions. This section needs to be presented in a logical way, especially if it is a chemistry lab report.
This critical part of a report has to be completely authentic. In the discussion section, you need to show understanding of the results of your findings. The students need to show whether the data supports the proposed hypothesis. If it does not, then the student has to tell why. Sometimes, the student may be required to review the works of other scientists.
Any ideas or discussions that were used in your lab report and were taken from other books and manuals need to be cited and included into the list of references. Any lab report is based on a number of procedures and therefore a student will have to do a lot of background reading. Do not include books that were not cited in the report itself. You may find a lab report example to get a better understanding of how to arrange a reference list in your report.
How to Write a Lab Report Conclusion?
Even if a student is an expert at writing the introduction and the body, he/she may not be sure how to write a lab report conclusion. A lab report conclusion is as important as any other element. You need to demonstrate everything you managed to discover during the experiment, even if the hypothesis was rejected. Make sure to provide a detailed description of everything you learned in the process. A conclusion should not include the summary of the results.
This section mainly includes tables, photos or graphs. In other words, it includes the materials that may help the readers get extra information and details. Use a separate appendix for each item.
To genuinely understand how to write a chemistry lab report, you should follow the main guideline, which is to keep the report short. For a short term lab, a couple of pages of content are sufficient. You may use a lab manual to find out which issues should be addressed in the lab report. Do not be afraid to include information on the errors that happened during the experiment. You need to review the reasons why the collected information may be wrong. You may include some recommendations on how to improve the accuracy of the test.
As you have already learnt, a lab report may have a significant impact on the final grade in a laboratory course. In order to write a successful lab report, students are recommended to follow all of the tips in this article as well as the instructions provided by the professor. Now you should not have any problems with writing a lab report.