How to Write A Lab Report

It is right to say that laboratory reports have a big role in a student’s life and for scientific research in general. Making up 25% of the final grade, reports are often underestimated by not only scholars but professors too. Many of them do not provide additional information when it comes to their expectations when it comes to reports, confusing the students. It is clear to everyone that these reports serve only one purpose: to gather one’s findings and to validate their importance. They contain valuable information such as theories, statistics, raw information and lists of materials. We’ve compiled all crucial elements a proper laboratory report should contain. Using these standard principles, will guarantee to obtain the highest mark and more importantly, impress your evaluator.

Keep in mind that mindlessly throwing information into a paper cannot be considered a proper report. This is why paying close attention is important in order to create links between the findings and present things like the meaning behind variances in your study, the way they have impacted the study and at the end, you should the purpose of your examination and the final verdict. All these factors should be well organized, in a coherent and academic structure.

What are the sections of a Lab Report?

The organization of your laboratory report comes down to your evaluator’s demands. Although, most laboratory reports will have the same base structure such as this one.

  1. Main Page
  2. Subject
  3. Synopsis
  4. Prelude
  5. Materials and Theories
  6. Results
  7. Discussions
  8. Citations
  9. Deduction
  10. Appendices

Main Page

Including this page in your page is solely based on your evaluator’s demands. What it means is that you should add a page, usually the first page that will contain important information about your subjects such as the title of the investigation, your name and your group members names and the date. Remember that you should not include a Title Page unless it has been requested.

Subject

The subject page is meant to summarise the purpose of your project in as little words as possible. A good example of a subject is: “Temperature and Pressure Measurements of an Ideal Gas That Is Heated in a Closed Container” which not only is short but also explains the whole plot of the investigation.

Synopsis

Whether you want to call it synopsis or an abstract, you can think about this part as a short description that shouldn’t surpass 250 words. Interprations, the consequences and meaning behind your procedures it what is should mostly contain. Keep in mind that the synopsis description should be anything else but vague. Readers should know exactly what the purpose of your paper is and what should be expected of it. The abstract is the last thing that needs to be written before the actual paper itself. You can see the abstract as a simple explanation of your report.

Keep in mind that your abstract should be intricate, meaning that it should have a depth to it. You can achieve this by adding more paragraphs.

Prelude

Probably the best part about a report, the prelude is detrimental to getting a high mark on your report. You shouldn’t aim to explain the arguments in a scientific manner and to offer as much additional information that needed about your given subject. The facts contained have to be, of course, the background of the study and a short brief of the used theories. Theories or hypothesis are basically suppositions that are made on the basis of limited evidence as a start idea for further research.

One of the best ways to create a proper introduction is to study previous projects. In addition, focus on how your research can impact further research or how it can provide solutions to existing problems.

Materials and Theories

In order for a paper to be considered meaningful and relevant, it must contain appropriate methodology using the gathered information. Explaining the process of your research is mandatory. Especially information about how the conclusion was achieved. Abstain from providing a step by step list of your research and try to summarise everything as you would do in a story.

Even though some people would think the contrary, you do not have to follow the same pattern specified in the lab manual. It is okay to derail from the normal tracks and improvise a bit. In addition, you must always use the past tense in your academic paper.

Results

This part is solely used to point out your findings through graphs, notes and data tables and whatever supports your claims. These formations classify as either Quantitive or Qualitative. The first one referring to numbers in general (kilograms, degrees, meters, etc.) and it can be ordinal or interval. The latter one refers to data which comes directly from observations and does not hold a numeric value. More exactly, things that are observed through senses.

A good rule is to never compare your research to others and to not mention if your theories matched the results. This is not the place to discuss your results. Everything on your paper should have a logical order and you should always use common sense.

Discussion

Some people call it analysis, some people call it a discussion. What should appear in analysis is an original view upon the results with an intricate interpretation and comprehension. You can talk about your data and if it supports your theories and additionally, you can compare your results to other scientists and come up with conclusions based on that. The opportunities are countless as long as you provide meaningful comments about your work.

  • Suggesting an idea that can lead to further research in the domain
  • Acknowledging limitations, as long as they can be explained using the final result
  • Say what the implications of your findings were and how your finding can impact the everyday life of individuals
  • Finish the analysis segment with an appropriate statement about the findings and enumerate once again all the key points of the research

Abstain from using useless information such as “at one point, I knocked over materials” or “It took almost two weeks for them to arrive”.

Citations

What this part should include is all the cited sources mentioned in your paper. This can contain all the information that has helped you lead this research. It is important to know that formatting this segment can be done in numerous ways, depending on your evaluator and more importantly, the scientific field. Most people use APA and CSE documentation styles when it comes to science papers. If your research has been done from textbooks, then you are in luck because most books contain references at the end of them, all you have to do is writing them. If you have been using the internet you may have to write them for yourself because most websites do not provide references.

It is highly advised to ask your evaluator before writing a reference page by yourself. You may never know what is the required format for this.

Deduction

The bread and butter of the report is definitely the deduction. Better said, it is the section where all your theories should merge and demonstrate the importance of your paper and what knowledge people can get from it. In conclusion, it is expected of you to provide in-depth information about the studies you have conducted in order for readers to analyze the importance and success of your study. Stay away from deviating from the subject.

Appendices

This part is dedicated to the statistics that cannot be mentioned in the actual paper but that can aid curious readers with additional information. While this is not a mandatory section to have, in case you choose to include one you should always point to it somewhere in the actual content of the paper. And in order to organize everything in your paper, you could note every infographic and then refer to it via its number in the appendices section.

Here are some of the most used elements that are found in appendices:

  • Raw data, images, and infographics that contribute to a better comprehension of the paper
  • Any information or source of substances that can explain the methodology used even better
  • Additions to the method section

Important things to remember

  1. Always double check your paper before submitting it. If you are a clumsy person, you can even triple check it. You can even ask someone else to look over your paper and analyze it for spelling errors and formatting ones.
  2. Besides using past tense when it comes to explaining scientific methods and theories, in addition, you can use the passive voice and the present tense.
  3. Always select a lab in which you have previous experience or that you have an interest in.
  4. References should always be in alphabetical order, according to the surnames.

Conclusion

Even though it may seem hard to understand at first, the best reports are not always the ones that contain the most information or photos. Depending on the time allowed on the paper, a few pages should always be fine for preparing an excellent report. The laboratory manual is always your friend when it comes to stumbling upon problems that seem impossible at first. Remember that a short and concise project is better than one that doesn’t have a purpose and comes with dozens of pages.

Laboratory reports are important because not only they consist of a high percentage of your final grade, but because they are a great way of practical learning rather than studying books. As long as you follow a proper structure, you should have no worries about constructing the best lab report possible.

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