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How to Write a Lab Report: General Guidelines

30 Nov 2017Lab Report Writing Guides

Lab reports let us show that students not only worked on scientific experiments but also understand goals and results of such exercises. This is a common practice for students of physics, chemistry, and other courses.

There is a standard format and structure. Every instructor should also have his or her own requirements for writing such papers. It is better to confirm these requirements before writing any lab report if you need to get better results.

Students have to be very attentive when doing exercises. Any piece of data that they get can be used in lab reports. They can only analyze research results sufficiently if they have all needed results of experiments.

What is a Lab Report?

It is an academic paper based on the results of laboratory exercises. It consists of several parts, including its title and abstract, used equipment, results and accompanying notes, and others. There are standards for formatting such papers and students should know them before writing.

When studying different courses, students learn to work as scientists, and such papers are appropriate for it. They help not only to do experiments and understand how natural laws work but also to learn to collect data and show it to other people who may need it.

Students should understand why they need to write such papers and what should they will achieve. It helps to write all the sections correctly and get a good grade when studying different laboratory courses. Instructors and teachers should help with the process and guide the students.

What is Lab Report Purpose

In science, a person not only do experiments but also shares their results with others. It helps to get much better results and push science forward. Lab reports help organize the results of experiments and publish them, so anyone with access is able to read the results for different reasons.

Lab reports also help to understand different scientific laws and principles of practice. Many people don’t trust what they read in books until they verify it in practice. It helps to study material much better and use its knowledge later if needed.

There could be different reasons for writing such papers. It should be used for gathering research results and proving scientific theories when writing lab reports. It may also be used as persuasive writing to convince other people that specific theories are correct and you can prove it.

Lab Report Format

There is a conventional structure of such papers and specific formatting, but you should always know what format and structure your instructor and teacher require. They want you to work not only on the scientific part of a paper but also on correct formatting.

Before writing, outline the basic structure of your lab reports. These are the main sections:

  • Title. It helps to clearly understand what you did to do the experiment. Describe the main point of your investigation just in several words, so other people could easily understand what it is about and what they are able to get from your lab report.
  • Abstract. This is summary that identifies the main points of your paper. It helps other people understand if they are able to use your paper for their studies, why are you're writing it, what data is presented, and how it can help other scientists.
  • Introduction. This paragraph is used to show the primary objectives and can also contain background information about experiments conducted. It should answer such questions as for how the experiment was performed by students, why you had done this, what data you had before starting research, what were your main goals before running the test, how did you think it could help you  get needed results and prove scientific theories.
  • Materials and methods. It shows all the things that you used to perform the experiment and what other people can use to do a similar test in their laboratories. The methods section shows all your steps in a way so other people can reproduce them easily, it helps to show how materials were used, why were they used, how specific objects were used by you to perform the experiment, and how other scientists can reproduce it.
  • Results. You can show the data you got while doing the experiment. It can be presented as text and numbers, pictures and tables, or figures and graphics so you should present in it a way that other scientists can understand it easily.
  • Discussion. The discussion helps you consider experiment results in detail, show how they support your hypothesis, how they answer the questions given earlier in the introduction, how others can use it in their own experiments, what logic you used in your scientific analysis of the lab report and why you used it. It can also describe mistakes you made and why you made them.
  • Literature cited. This is a standard section for most college papers. Students should present names of literature and other sources they used, their authors, and specific pages from where you got information for writing so your readers can check these sources fast and find needed information there.

Lab reports are beneficial for students who often do experiments in laboratories. They are used to collect information, describe results in an understandable format, and discuss these results. Lab reports can also be read by other scientists to document their own work.

Students have to know the structure and formatting before writing lab reports. It is not very easy to write all the sections. It could require more work and time to get better results.

Every section of lab reports should be revised and edited before publishing. Students also need to check them for plagiarism and grammatical correctness, present data in the most understandable way. You can read the work of other students beforehand know how to do it right.

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