Lab reports are usually at lesser half of your grade in your lab class. A typical lab report will show your total understanding of the labs you are performing and is essential to becoming a good scientist. Whether you’re on track to become a scientist, or are simply taking a science class and lab for general education credits, it’s important to know how to write the perfect lab report. Here are some tips and tricks for writing a lab report that your lab instructor will love to read.
1. Follow the Rubric
Each lab instructor has their own rubric they want students to follow when writing lab reports. The great thing about lab reports is they don’t require much creativity since it is scientific writing. It’s all facts and reports of everything you do during your lab. Read over the rubric carefully before you begin your lab report and ask your lab instructor any questions you may have.
2. Learn how to Cite
Citing your scientific papers is very important. You don’t want to plagiarize your work and risk failing the class because you didn’t cite something correctly. Since these are scientific papers, peer review articles and published works usually have citations available somewhere on the webpage for you to use. If you have a question about how to cite your lab reports, ask your instructor! When you learn how to do this early on in your labs, you’ll have an easier time writing a report, no matter how long it is.
3. Speak Objectively
Lab reports don’t require opinions and subjectivity! Ensure you’re writing objectively and from a scientific point of view so you don’t seem biased in your lab report. Back your findings up with facts and evidence for a stronger report.
4. Double-Check Calculations
Your lab report may require you to use equations and calculations. Double-check your calculations to ensure your results are correct. The wrong equation or calculation can give you results that aren’t correct for your report, causing you to miss points. Collaborate with your lab partners and check the lab manual to ensure you get the calculations down.
Contents of a Lab Report
Most lab reports follow the same guidelines. There’s a title, abstract, introduction, methods and materials, results, discussion, conclusion, and references. Each part should be in paragraph form and follow the scientific method. If this is your first time writing a lab report, these components may seem confusing, but we’re here to break it down for you.
Your lab report title should be simple and to the point. If you have a lab manual or lab notebook for your class, it will have the title of your experiment and you’ll use that as your lab report title. You may be required to have a full title page with your name, the experiment name, your instructor’s name, and your lab partners.
An abstract for your lab report is a summary of the experiment but not too detailed. It’s a small introduction to your lab report but not as detailed as the actual introduction.
Your lab report introduction includes your hypothesis and any other relevant information about the lab you’ve performed. Stray from using the laboratory notebook introduction of your experiment in this section.
Methods and Materials
This is really the most detailed and large part of your lab report. You’ll write down all the materials you’ve used and include their measurements. For example, if you’re using a beaker ensure you’re including its size. Write your methods down as if you’ve never done the experiment before. Use organized writing and clear paragraph structure in this detailed section of your report.
Your experimental results section is where you’ll put all your calculations and findings from your experiment. This is not the section where you’ll discuss how it proves or disproves your hypothesis. Any equations or calculations you’ve used should be stated in this section.
This is where you’ll discuss the results further and give an overview of your lab experiment. You can discuss any experimental error you feel may have altered the results or any further questions you may have because of them. You can connect your hypothesis with the evidence of the findings to prove or disprove it.
This is where you’ll talk about your overall findings of the experiment and if they prove or disprove your hypothesis.
This may be one of the most important parts of your entire lab report. Any thoughts or statements that are not your own should be properly cited to prevent plagiarism.
Ask the Lab Instructor
If you have any further questions about how to write the perfect lab report, ask your lab instructor! Instructors are there to help you and guide you through your experiment, including the lab report process. Once you’ve written one or two reports, you’ll be able to write your others easily.
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