Lab reports are mandatory for laboratory courses and they have set marks. It conveys the aim of a scientific experiment, its methods, and its results. But the main purpose of writing a lab report is to illustrate how much you have understood the experiment and whether or not you can perform it again all by yourself without the help of your lab instructor. Moreover, a lab report is usually shorter than a research paper. Besides, some teachers may ask you to make a notebook and write lab reports on the same notebook while others may ask you to write a separate lab report for every experiment that you perform. Anyways, both of them have the same structure and rules. So, read the article below to learn how to write a lab report step by step.
How to Write a Lab Report- Step by Step
Lab Report Structure
A la report is a report that explains what you did in the experiment, what you learned, and what was the result of the experiment. A lab report consists of the following elements.
- Title: The title is the topic or focus of the experiment.
- Abstract: An abstract gives a precise overview of the content of a lab report, including the methods, aims, result, and the conclusion. It is usually neglected for a short lab report.
- Introduction: In the introduction part of the lab report, you need to briefly explain the relevant theories and give some background. Besides, you also add the problem, the hypothesis, and the objective of the experiment.
- Method: In this section, you should write down the equipments and the material used in the experiment and write down the procedure. Besides, you also add any flow-charts or diagram if required.
- Results: In the result section, the result of the experiment is illustrated either graphically or tabularly.
- Discussion: In discussion, we dicuss the limitations and the key findings of the experiment.
- Conclusion: Usually this element is to remind the reader the problem you investigated.
Step 1: Title
The title is to tell your reader what you did in the experiment; simply the purpose of the experiment. It should be brief, not more than ten words. However, the title of your lab report should be able to describe the purpose of your title in the best way possible. For instance, “Effects of Ultraviolet Light on Borax Crystal Growth Rate”.
Step 2: Abstract
An abstract is used to give a brief overview of your experiment. And it should be able to answer the following set of questions.
- Why did you conduct the experiment?
- What was your main problem that you performed the experiement for?
- Which methods did you use to solve the problem?
- What was the result of the experiment and what they mean?
- How do these results help us in understanding of the problem?
It is important to remember that you have to be very brief while answering these questions. So, avoid overstating any of your answers. However, your abstract should be clear and evident enough for anyone who is unfamiliar with your experiment may get an idea of what is the experiment about and what are the results without reading the whole lab report.
Moreover, an abstract should not be more than one paragraph which is 200 to 300 words long. And we also recommend that you should write the abstract of your lab report at last even though it is the first section of your lab report.
Step 3: Introduction
The purpose of the introduction in a lab report is to illustrate the aim of the experiment, the problem, any relevant hypothesis, laws, equations, or theories. One of the best ways to write the introduction of your lab report is to start broad and narrow down to the problem and ways that you can use to solve the problem.
Moreover, you can ask for help from your lecturer if you are not sure what to include in the introduction of your lab report. However, you should write the introduction in your own words. Copying from lab notes is not suggested.
Step 4: Method
This is where you describe what you actually did in the experiment not what was planned. So, it includes the procedure that you followed during the experiment. It usually includes the following.
- How many participates performed the experiment?
- What were the dependent and independent varibales
- What materials you used.
- How the equipments and apparatus was setup.
- Thorough explanation of the steps you followed to perform the experiment and to collect data. You can write this section of your lab report as if you are instructing someone else.
- Whether or not you encountered any experimental difficulties. If yes, how did you resolve them.
Step 5: Results
In the results section, you list down the data you collected from your experiment or the result of your experiment. You can include the data you collected during your experiment in the form of a table, graph, figures, or bullets. Moreover, you also add the calculations you have done to better illustrate your data.
Step 6: Discussion
In this section, you interpret what the results mean and explain unexpected results you obtained from the experiment if there are any. And you can also compare different results you have obtained in this section. Besides, it should also be able to illustrate your understanding of the experiment and whether or not you are capable of performing this experiment by yourself again.
Step 7: Conclusion
In the last part of your lab report, you sum up everything. So, you briefly explain the purpose of the experiment, the main results, its limitations, and what you have learned from the experiment in a single paragraph.
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