How to Write a Lab Report- September 2021

lab report

A lab report is a written document which explains a scientific concept that is being investigated in a laboratory experiment. This report critically analyzes and describes all the aspects of experiments to its readers. Writing a lab report enables you to conduct scientific research and then formulate a hypothesis regarding a specific event, performance or stimulus. The formulated hypothesis can then be justified by reviewing relevant literature. The concise details provided in the report can help others to replicate the study.

What is a Lab Report?

An excellent lab report does more than just offer facts; it also exhibits the writer’s grasp of the concepts that underpin the data. It is not enough to simply record the expected and observed outcomes; you must also explain how and why differences happened, as well as demonstrate your comprehension of the ideas the experiment was supposed to investigate.

Irrespective of the variances, the aim of lab reports remains the same: to document and convey your findings. Therefore, we may go over the basic structure and fundamental elements of the report. You can adapt to the specific needs of a course or lecturer if you understand the pieces and their functions. Remember, no matter how useful a format is, it cannot substitute clear thinking and well-organized writing. You must still carefully categorize your thoughts and communicate them in a logical manner while writing a lab report.

Keep in mind that relying on a single explanation for your findings in a lab report may be impossible. As a result, you must present as many hypothetical and relevant interpretations as possible. Even if your findings do not support your hypothesis, they are still useful since they allow you to show that your reasoning was unreliable within the setting of your investigation.

After that, you can move on to other study topics without having to repeat your steps. Furthermore, others may be able to test your hypothesis under different settings as a result of this. However, there may have been unforeseeable variables or factors that were impossible to isolate and control, which you might use to support your findings.

Template for a lab report

Every section of a lab report serves a distinct purpose. The goal, methodology, and results of a lab experiment are normally included in the sections of a lab report, which vary depending on the scientific fields and course requirements.

  1. Title

  • Specifically describes the lab report’s emphasis
  1. Abstract

  • Gives a high-level overview of the report’s contents, including findings and conclusions
  • It is normally the last section of the report to be written, and in a brief lab report, it may not be necessary.
  1. Introduction

  • Gives background information for the experiment as well as a brief explanation of any hypotheses that may be relevant.
  • Outlines the problem and/or hypothesis, as well as the experiment’s objective(s) in a concise manner.

how to write a lab report

  1. Materials and Methods

  • Outlines the equipment, materials, and procedure(s) employed, as well as flow charts and/or diagrams of the experimental set-up.
  • Describes any data processing or calculations that were done on the data (if applicable)
  1. Results

  • Graphs or tables are used to present the experiment’s outcomes.
  • Where applicable, figures often include error bars, which explain how the results were analyzed, including error analysis.
  1. Discussion

  • Analyses significant findings in light of the objectives/research question
  • summarizes major findings and limitations, offers suggestions for overcoming shortcomings, and points to future research paths
  1. Conclusion

  • reminds the reader of the problem being studied, encapsulates the findings in connection to the problem/hypothesis, and briefly outlines the findings’ big-picture implications.
  1. References

  • displays the publishing information for every source cited in the text, making it easy for readers to find sources quickly. It usually follows a certain referencing style.
  1. Appendices

  • An appendix (plural = appendices) is a section of a report that provides information that is too extensive to be included in the main report, such as raw data tables or thorough calculations.

Title

The title provides a succinct summary of the paper’s major points. This must state the purpose of the research. It has to include the variables that are being investigated. Make sure you do not write it in the form of a question. It should have a length of 5 to 12 words. The title should contain enough information for anyone to understand what the study is about after reading it. You do not need to write too many details, though, because you’ll discuss them throughout the report.

Examples

  1. Signal Spatial Processing in Digital Shortwave Radio Systems
  2. Medical Statistical Methods
  3. Acoustic System Development
  4. Alternative Energy Sources Projection
  5. Straw Panel Manufacturing for Eco-Friendly Homes
  6. Body Movements Under the Influence of Gravity: A Computer Model
  7. The Monte Carlo method is used to simulate data.
  8. The Importance of Wind Turbines
  9. Noise’s Effect on the Nervous System
  10. The Impact of Abiotic Environmental Factors on Immune System Health
  11. Determination of the Detergent’s Quality
  12. Controlling the Quality of a Specific Pharmaceutical Product
  13. The Impact of Dust and Air Pollution on the Human Respiratory System’s Function
  14. Applications of transformers
  15. Mineral Fertilizers and Vegetable Chemistry
  16. Report on the Drinking Water Quality
  17. Methods for Researching Blood Characteristics in the 21st Century
  18. Child Injury Problems in Today’s World
  19. Food Nitrate Content Determination
  20. New Methods for Testing the Acidity of Milk and Dairy Products are being developed.

How to write an Abstract for a lab report

It’s a tiny replica of your lab report, to put it another way. Actually, you will write this section last, after you’ve completed the rest of the lab report. You must give a short explanation of the experiment’s purpose, methodologies employed, main findings, observations, and major conclusions in this section. This section is fairly brief (about 150-200 words), but it is crucial because it is intended for people who have an interest in what you achieved. They will examine the abstract to see if the work is worth reading in its entirety. It should be taken seriously because this part can be somewhat difficult to write.

Writing abstracts on a regular basis will help you enhance your skills. When writing an abstract for your lab reports, there are certain fundamental guidelines to follow.

  • An abstract should feature graphs, tables, equations, or illustrations.
  • An abstract should follow the structure of your lab report and use only the most important headlines.
  • Check to see if your lab report can be understood without reference to other papers.
  • An abstract is written last and appears after the lab report’s title.
  • Avoid acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon.
  • It should include keywords that make it easy to find.

How to write an Introduction to a lab report

Background information about the topic must be provided in this section of the lab report. It should also include information about the objective of your research, your hypothesis, and the primary reason you believe your hypothesis is valid. It may also provide a description of dedicated equipment. You should never use information from your lab notes in your introduction. This section should always be written in your very own words.

Provide background information and a review of previous research on the topic to begin this section. You should offer suitable sources and a summary of what is already known about your topic. You should also state your goals and objectives, as well as why you are performing this work. You must state who you believe will be benefited from the outcomes. You may also have to define some technical words used in the lab report so that even readers who are not acquainted with the subject matter may grasp what you have written.

As it is difficult to generate a vision and direction about how to begin or what to include at the beginning, the introduction could be one of the most difficult portions of a report to write. Write the introduction in sections, summarizing each study or theoretical framework separately. Return to shaping these pieces together as needed to obtain a concept of the order in which they should be placed to most persuasively lead up to your hypothesis’ rationale. Do not forget to include definitions for any important terminology and concepts throughout your report, as well as the use of acronyms.

How to write a hypothesis for a lab report

Introduce your hypothesis and aims and objectives of yours research in this section. A provisional statement that suggests a potential reason for an event or a phenomenon is called a hypothesis. Also, a testable assertion that may include a prediction is referred to as a useful hypothesis.

Examples of hypotheses:

  • If the occurrence of skin cancer is linked to ultraviolet light exposure, those who are exposed to a lot of UV radiation are more likely to develop skin cancer.
  • If leaf colour change is temperature dependent, then potentially exposing plants to cold temperatures will result in leaf color changes.

The introduction is arguably the second most significant section in terms of how much word space to allot to it, therefore distribute words wisely. Depending on how many words are required to effectively discuss the technique and results sections, a 500-word lab report would be an acceptable goal to aim towards a 2000 word lab report. If these require far fewer words, you may be able to lengthen the introduction.

Many students struggle with using proper verb tenses when writing this portion. The following suggestions should be considered.

  • Use present tense if the theory or report still exists i.e. ‘The purpose of this report is…’
  • Use the past tense if the experiment was completed i.e. ‘The purpose of this study was to…’

Materials and Methods

Participants

Give enough information about the participants in this section so that the study may be replicated with people who have similar features. As a result, you will need to include the number of participants, their gender, whether or not they are students, and how they were chosen. Mention all of their demographic details. It is also worth mentioning whether individuals volunteered and were assigned to experimental groups at random.

Materials and Methods

This section can include a list of the materials and methods used in the experiment. You do not always have to write it; instead, you can direct your readers to certain pages in your lab manual. If there are any questionnaires, explain why they were needed and how they were adapted. You do. not have to write all the details of questionnaire. Instead, give a dense overview.

Procedure

You must also explain how you tested your theory in detail. You should very explicitly provide enough detail for your readers to comprehend how you accomplished it and be able to replicate it if they so desired. You should describe the experimental technique in full, step by step, in chronological sequence, and explain how everything actually happened when you did it, and not how it was meant to happen.

You should use the past tense and the thirst person. For instance, ‘We set up the equipment as depicted in Fig. 1′.

If applicable, your report should include information regarding the experiment’s critical conditions, such as atmospheric pressure, humidity, operating temperatures, and so on. You can include the manufacturer and model number when writing about the device. You should also explain the experimental design and justify the methodologies and processes you have chosen. You can attach images and diagrams to describe the precise equipment you used if necessary.

How to write results in a lab report

The results section is generally written after the materials and methods since it clarifies the findings before you start thinking about possible interpretations in your discussion. The findings give the reader information about what you discovered. As a result, one of the most important aspects of the results section is to make sure that you simply present the findings, not what they mean in terms of the study.

It could be the most significant and shortest portion of your lab report. Here you display all of the data you collected during the experiment in a clear and straightforward manner, in chronological sequence. The ideal strategy is to describe all of the findings and include the data in an appendix. You can show the data in the form of tables, figures, and graphs, as well as highlight some of your findings. You must label each table or graph appropriately so that your viewers can comprehend what they are looking at.

In this section, you should not interpret the outcomes, though you can give brief summaries of the procedures you employed. This section’s data should not be analyzed. You can also include some computations, such as a general equation and an example. You should provide more information in appendix.

It may be helpful to start with by identifying the type of study conducted on the data, and if the data were modified in any manner before the analysis was conducted. Then talk about the differences (or lack thereof) across groups in terms of the activities they did during the study. You can communicate this difference (or lack thereof) by including each group’s score numerically and in brackets, if it is significant. The difference must then be supported by statistical data (or lack of).

In this situation, the statistical test name must be mentioned by means of appropriate statistical symbols, like t, F, M. Include the statistical value, degree of freedom and the probability level for each test. For certain tests, the N value or number of participants may also be required. Above all, you must say if the difference was “significant” or “not significant.”

When you have a lot of data, it is sometimes easier to represent it in a table or graph and then write a summary of the key aspects or patterns. Keep in mind, however, that you should avoid duplicating information. So, if you have a table with data in there and then continue to write a lot of it in the form of phrases, the textual representation of the data will be redundant. The title is written at the top of the table when using tables, and below the graph when using graphs.

How to write lab report result’s section:

Discussion in a lab report

This portion is crucial since it allows you to show how well you comprehended the experiment. Besides, this is the least formalized section of your lab report. You must provide a detailed summary of the events that occurred throughout the experiment. You have to evaluate your findings, analyze them and interpret them. Actually, you should tell your audience what they can do with your experiment’s results. It is critical to keep this section as detailed as possible while keeping it as succinct as reasonable.

Because this section receives the maximum marks, it is well worth your effort to complete it thoroughly. You usually start with a sentence or paragraph that summarizes the findings, including whether they corroborate or refute the hypothesis. You can next opt to draw attention to the parallels between the current and past studies’ findings. Then it is time to tackle the most difficult portion of the discussion: communicating your findings.

You must explain what your findings signify and whether they answered the question that your experiment was designed to address. Try to make observations on specific trends and make comparisons between actual results and projections. You must also mention any uncertainties or inaccuracies in the results, as well as potential theories for the results that are uncertain.

You should begin the discussion section by stating whether your findings support or refute your hypothesis. Then you should explain why the data you collected supported or disproved your theory. You can compare your findings to those of other studies and speculate on their theoretical implications. To put it another way, you must paint a wide picture and explain how your findings might aid in a greater understanding of the overall subject.

Explaining, interpreting, and, when appropriate, defending your findings should take up a significant percentage of your discussion. This may entail reiterating some of the theoretical frameworks or models described in the introduction, but with a stronger focus on making sense of the current study’s findings. You should explore any alternate interpretations for the facts in addition to confirming the theory. These could be derived from investigations that produced contradictory results when compared to the hypothesis. In addition, you can draw on components of the study that have been left to randomness instead of scientifically controlled.

Specifically, use approaches like these to narrow your discussion:

  • Make a comparison between the expected and actual results.

How do you account for discrepancies if they exist? When you say, “human error,” you are implying that you’re inept. Be thorough; for example, the sample was not purified or was polluted, the instruments were unable to measure accurately, or the computed values cannot compensate for friction.

  • Examine the error that occurred during the experiment.

Was it something that could have been avoided? Was it due to the equipment? You can still account for the variance from the standard if an experiment was within the limits. Explain how the experimental design could be modified if the problems are due to the design.

  • Describe your findings regarding the theoretical concerns.

Undergraduate laboratories are frequently used to demonstrate important physical laws like the Müller-Lyer illusion and Kirchhoff’s voltage law. Normally, these will have been covered in the introduction. Move from the statistics to the concepts in this part. What is the quality of the illustration of theory?

  • Relate your findings to your experiment’s goal (s).

If you want to identify an unknown metal by determining its lattice parameter and atomic structure, you’ll need to first learn about the metal and its properties.

  • Compare and contrast your findings with those of other studies.

In some circumstances, comparing results with classmates is appropriate, not to alter your result, but to check for and analyze any discrepancies between the groups.

  •  Evaluate your experimental design’s benefits and drawbacks.

This is especially handy if the object you are testing was created by you (e.g., a circuit).

It is useful to address any weaknesses in the study, such as a lack of variety among participants, sample size, and other features of the sample population, in the final section of the discussion. If you can think of any other problems related with the study’s design, it is a good idea to bring them up. Before you write your final paragraph, examine how the findings might be applied in the future, as well as the necessity for additional research to uncover unexplained elements of research conclusions. This part may or may not be included in the conclusion of the report, depending on its requirements. Finish the report by restating the findings and their importance to the study field.

Conclusion

This section is sometimes integrated with the discussion. This is a summary of it all and a lesson from the outcomes you have gained. You can restate your experiment’s goal or the main questions you were attempting to answer. You should also go over the most important topics from the results and discussion sections. In this part, do not submit any new information, but you can make some suggestions for possible changes that other investigators can use. Also, if the conclusion part overlaps with the Discussion portion in some lab reports, you should consult with your instructor before omitting it.

References

Your lab reports may contain in-text citations. Typically, these will be presented in the introduction to establish evidence of background for current theories or issues. To explain how your findings relate to those in the existing research, or to provide evidence-based opinions or justifications for what you saw, your discussion section will frequently incorporate in-text citations. When using in-text citations in your lab report, the entire citations must always be supplied in a separate reference list. Following your conclusion, there is a separate section called the reference list.

Learn which referencing style is desired by consulting your lab handbook or unit information. For your in-text references and reference list, make sure you stick to that referencing style. The Citing and referencing Library guide contains examples and information about typical referring strategies.

Appendices

Appendices (plural = appendices) include information which is too extensive for the preceding paragraph, such as raw data sheets or thorough calculations.

  • Each appendix must be assigned a number (or letter) as well as a title.
  • Referenced by number (or letter) at the appropriate location in the text.

Language and Style Suggestions for Achieving a Higher Grade

It is critical to learn to write well while studying science so that all of the details of your studies may be communicated effectively, simply, and explicitly. Keep in mind following suggestions while writing your report to make it professional and comprehensive.

  • Check your lab report for language and spelling errors, as well as typos and inconsistencies.
  • Avoid redundancy, idiomatic phrases, and slang.
  • Ensure that your writing is professional and exact, and that the context of all sentences is apparent. Reduce uncertainty and wordiness.
  • Consistently use the past tense. You are free to use the passive voice.
  • Avoid using direct quotations.
  • Avoid using emotive or constricted language.
  • Begin working on your lab report as soon as possible so that you have adequate time to modify and proofread it.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What information should be included in a lab report?

The following sections would be included in a standard lab report: title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion. Separate pages are used for the title page, abstract, references, and appendices. Subsections from the main body of the report are not started on new pages.

What section of a lab report is the most significant?

The results section is the most integral part of the report because it contains all of the data obtained throughout your study. This section normally includes graphs and charts that show your findings, as well as brief statements that explain the graphics and interpret data.

What is the best way to respond to queries in a lab report?

Restate the experiment’s goal in a few words (the question it was seeking to answer). Determine the most important results (answer to the research question). Take note of the major restrictions that affect how the results are interpreted. Write a summary of how the study helped you comprehend the topic.

What is the ideal length for a lab report?

A lab report’s title should be simple and clear, indicating what the report will be about. It must not be excessively long, usually no more than ten words. Try to add key words that scholars and search engines on the Web will recognize when coming up with a title.

What does a lab report serve?

A laboratory experiment that explores a scientific subject is described and analyzed in a lab report. They’re usually given to you so that you can: Conduct scientific study, Make a hypothesis or a set of hypotheses concerning a specific behavior, stimulus or an event.

What is the format of a hypothesis?

A good hypothesis will be expressed as a statement or a question that includes the following information:

  • Who or what you expect to be affected is the dependent variable(s).
  • Independent variable(s): who or what you believe will have an impact on the dependent variable.

Is it acceptable to include bullet points in a lab report?

You should write everything in your report in the form of a paragraph or a figure (graph, table, equation, etc.). Lists and bullet points have no place in a report.

What makes a lab report different from a research paper?

A lab report’s aim is to prove your knowledge of the scientific process through a practical lab experiment. Often, your lecturers will provide you an experimental design and protocol. Your duty is to document how you carried out the experiment and to assess the results.

A research paper, on the other hand, asks you to construct a unique argument on your own. It entails more in-depth source and data analysis and interpretation.

The length of a lab report is usually less than that of a research paper.

How do the results differ from the discussion?

The results section or chapter simply and objectively summarizes what you discovered, without elaborating on why you discovered these results. The discussion interprets the findings, places them in perspective, and discusses their significance. Results and discussion are occasionally integrated in qualitative research. However, with quantitative research, it’s critical to keep the objective results separate from your perception of them.


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