How To Write a Lab Report | Outline, Format & Template

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 What is a lab report?

A lab report is a written document that describes and analyses an experiment conducted in a laboratory seeking to explain a scientific occurrence or nature.

How is A Lab Report Structured?

The definition alone of a lab report gives you the impression that it is a document that is well organized and follows a particular format.

Most lab reports contain different segments broken down into topics and sub-topics. The topics and subtopics provide different information concerning different stages of the study that was conducted in the laboratory.

Each topic and subtopic provides bits of information about the steps taken during the study. The following are the topics that make up the structure of a lab report in a systematic order.

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Method
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  7. References

 Contents of A Title Page

The title page is the first part of a lab report. The page gives the reader a clue of what to expect in the subsequent sections. It simply informs the reader about the report’s contents regarding the field of study. This particular page in a lab report contains the title of the experiment. A reader decides whether to read or not by looking at the title  One way of writing a good title is to make it short and simple, but there is one rule that all lab reports are required to follow. A title is considered correct if it begins with a keyword instead of an article. An example of a correct title is “Effects of Carbon on Climate Change.”

Other information that you are required to include on this page is the writer’s name, the partners involved in the experiment, the instructor, and the submission date of the report.

 How To Write An Interesting Abstract

The abstract is considered the most important part of a lab report. It is the part that determines whether a reader will proceed to read your lab report. In other words, it is the part that ignites the reader’s interest. It ignites the reader’s interest because it summarizes everything contained in the lab report. To effectively execute this part, you should remember it is a summary of answers to the following questions.

  1. The purpose behind the study.
  2. Which apparatus were used in the study?
  3. The settings of the apparatus.
  4. Who were the participants involved in the study?
  5. What were the methods employed in terms of what experimental groups?
  6. Which questionnaires were used?
  7. What tests were conducted?
  8. The findings’ relevance is the last question to be answered.

 Tips for Writing An Impressive Introduction.

It is important to have an impressive introduction because it is the part that builds on the interest already sparked by the abstract. In other words, it is the part that tries not to disappoint a reader after deciding to read the entire lab report. Therefore it must be impressive enough to hold the attention of the reader.

It needs to be impressive because it is the part that is supposed to demonstrate to the reader that you are well informed about the topic or field of your study and that you understand what you are seeking to study. This section aims to show your wealth of knowledge concerning the subject of study. This impressive introduction should be in a funnel-like format. It should follow this order;

  1. Give a general explanation of the theory.
  2. A framework of the theory explains the reason for the problem under research.
  3. How do you write a summary and synthesis of past studies? A good synthesis requires research. You first need to read different materials that document a similar study meaning a study in the same field seeking to understand the same problem. You then proceed to separate the information into two groups. One group contains information similar to each other, and the other group contains a list of contradicting information. It should state the studies’ purpose, the participants involved, procedures used, their findings, the meaning of their findings, and the relevance of their findings to your study.
  4. How does your study add value to the theory in filling a missing information link? The study should be able to add a significant piece of knowledge that takes the understanding of the problem in context to the next level.
  5. What will you be studying and the possible results be based on previous knowledge of existing studies?

 Guidelines for Writing A Detailed Method Section

A method section should be detailed because a reader at this point has gotten a clear idea of the information contained in similar existing studies. Therefore, the reader is keen on reading details of how you conducted your experiment to give a rational judgment of your results based on the knowledge of similar existing studies. To make it detailed enough, you should write it in subheadings format.

  1. Participants

-Number of participants involved in the study.

-Procedure for collecting samples.

-Details of the appropriate demographics.

  1. Design

-Describe the order of the study.

-Details of the variables in terms of dependent and independent.

-Details of the available controls.

Materials

Details of the materials and their measures, for example, the title given to the questionnaire and whether an existing study inspired it.

 Procedure

The procedure section gives a detailed description of the steps of actions taken in conducting the study. It should be detailed enough to make it possible to be replicated by other researchers.

It should provide important details only and leave out insignificant details like record sheets.

How To Write A Credible Results Section

The reader is usually anxious to get to this part. The reader has taken the time to go through all the sections and wants to know whether your results will be credible. The recommended way of presenting results is by use of graphs and tables. It is the recommended format because it makes it easy for a reader to understand a large information set. The following are tips on executing this section of a lab report effectively.

  1. Please include all the necessary information in the tables and figures and make them easy to understand so that a reader who does not want to read the whole paper can understand the paper’s objective.
  2. The tables should have clearly labeled columns and a clearly labeled axis of the graphs.
  3. Number the tables, graphs, and figures and describe the information contained in them.
  4. Raw data is not allowed.

 Advice On Writing A Credible Discussion

This section provides information and analysis about the research problem from an experienced point of view because you have conducted your version of the study and know existing studies in this particular field. In simple terms, we can say this is the part where you talk from experience. Talking from experience makes the reader view you as credible. Therefore the following are the guidelines for making your discussion sound credible.

  1. Use simple English and do not write in the statistical language.
  2. State whether your results support or reject the hypothesis.
  3. State similarities and differences between your results and other studies’ results. Then give reasons for the differences and the similarities.
  4. State the challenges that arose. Stating the challenges is required if they played a part in determining your results.
  5. Suggest methods that you think can effectively take the study to another level that will aid the understanding of the problem.
  6. Give a detailed explanation of what exactly your findings seem to suggest.
  7. Give suggestions of other areas that need to be studied based on the challenges you encountered.
  8. Finally, state your findings again and the major discussion points in four sentences.

 Instructions On Writing A Correct Reference Page

In most cases, your study is not the first one in that particular field. Other materials document studies of the same problem. Those materials contain content based on evidence and based on theories. The information based on theory and those based on evidence may have made sense to you, and you may have decided to cite them in your report. If this happens, you must state where you got that information. These are called sources of cited information. The sources might include books, journals, websites, or documentaries.

The reference section is the part where these sources are written. Books are the easiest to reference because you can copy them from their last pages.

Books

There is a standard way of writing a reference from a book.

Author, A.A (year). Title of Work. Location. Publisher.

Journal

References for journals are as follows;

Author, A.A., Author, B.B., & Author, C.C (year). Article Title.Journal Title, volume number(issues number), page numbers.

The reference does not have to be from a hard copybook. You can also type in name the book’s name or the psychologist in Google Scholar and get the necessary details.