Laboratory reports are a part of courses that require students/college students to perform lab experiments and tests and then make a report of the same in writing. A laboratory report writing should explain the processes used, the test results, and an evaluation. Submitting results only is considered an incomplete paper as it does not demonstrate an understanding of the experiments and the concepts the tests ought to achieve. The lab report should record all the experiment's processes used to come up with the finding. Beforehand, the target audience should be identified to help determine the complexity and explanation needed in the report. Think critically about what you will write about, how it will be comprehended, and what the audience will be interested to know. A lab report can be equated to a story as it entails a step-by-step delivery of information. There is a basic structure for a student, but there are instances where an outline is stated in the instructions. Different reports often require a different format. For example, a psychology lab report will not be similar to a chemistry lab report. This article will serve as a guideline to help students who feel stuck on how a laboratory report should look like. This is a beginner's guide and can be used by a student from any class, as the article gives the essential information you need to know before you get started. We hope you will have learned the basic details of lab report writing by the end of the article.
What You Should Know Before Writing a Lab Report
Report writing is format-oriented. There is a basic structure one must follow to realize an A grade report. The format of a report is different from other types of writing. This is not an essay but rather an analysis of an experiment. Experiments differ, and as such, report structures may vary. However, no need to worry as most instructors will give a basic guide.
Must have background information. When writing a lab report, do not assume that your audience is well aware of what you are doing. Give information of what the experiment was about before any results and discussions are made. Analyze your target audience beforehand to understand better what you will include in the background information section.
Reports are written in passive past tense or third-person perspective. The passive form was/were and I/we is used when writing a lab report. Lab reports are written after the experiment and analysis are done. In the report, you are giving an account of the experiment, and therefore only reasonable that you use past tense to show that the report represents the experiment afterward.
Be clear and straight to the point. Do not provide information that is not related to the report. Make all arguments short and avoid ambiguous statements that your audience may misinterpret. If you are needed to do a calculation, focus on giving brief descriptions if need be. A report should be informative but also be precise to the point.
Avoid personal perspectives. Reports are not an avenue for sharing personal opinions. All information shared must be relevant and can be supported using resources. For instance, when writing a lab report in Chemistry or physics, give the exact measures as seen in the experiment and do not introduce other information unless asked. You can provide further details when analyzing, and only then will you give a perspective based on facts.
LAB Report Presentation
It is common knowledge that a write-up should have a title page stating the owner of the report, school, and title of the experiment data, and instructor's name. Reports MUST have these parts, and they should be well labeled.
Figures and Table
Label tables and figures appropriately. Number the tables and figures differently. Microsoft Word has inbuilt features to help in labeling. Use that! If you are not familiar with this, there are many online articles to help you if you are stuck.
Remember that figures and tables are a visual representation of the experiment. Therefore, aim to ensure that they are well labeled and explained to avoid misinterpretation by the readers. Use different colors and shapes where necessary. Make them in such a way that they are easy to comprehend and interpret.
Language and Style
Use grammatically correct language. The use of slang and jargon is inappropriate in a report setting. In addition, use formal language and avoid the use of contractions and personal pronouns.
Formal language is critical report delivery. Handle a report like an official document explaining what has been done. You do not want to jeopardize your experiment by simply not being keen on the language you have used.
Any information from an outside source should be referenced; otherwise, that will be considered plagiarized. The use of Wikipedia and other similar sites raises red flags to your paper. Use academically reviewed sources.
Reports often have different results, and for some, the environment in which the experiment was done may determine an output. Therefore, do not be tempted into copying results but instead work through the experiment. Plagiarism can easily be checked using many tools online. Don't be a victim of such,
LAB Report Basic Structure
The title page contains the name of the experiment, the date it was done, the student's credential and course name, course number, and the instructor's name. The title page should be short and descriptive enough. This is the landing page for your report hence the need for it to strike an audience. The title page should reflect what the experiment is about in less than eight words. For instance, the title could be "Experiment IV: Measuring Enthalpy Changes." This title is short, straight to the point, and explains what the experiment is about.
An abstract is a common phenomenon seen in most papers. An abstract is a summary of a project. In this instance, it is a lab report summary. The summary explains the importance of the experiment, the results/findings, and the conclusion. The abstract should be brief and about half a page or less. An abstract is written as the last item in a lab report. It is an essential part of a lab report as it gives a reader an expression of what the report is all about. Among the items present in an abstract are:
Purpose of the experiment
Apparatus/materials used and procedure (a summary)
Results and observations made
All this information is compressed into a short text.
This section gives a reader an extensive idea of what the report ought to accomplish. The aims and objectives of the experiment are well articulated, and the hypothesis is stated if the investigation is to investigate one. The aims and objectives of the experiment must be aligned to real-life world applications. Let the audience know how the experiment is essential outside the classroom. Introduce the experiment's broad aspects by explaining why the work is essential and who benefits from the experiment.
New college students often find writing the introduction part challenging because they are unsure of the right tense and structure to use most of the time. In terms of structure, ensure that all relevant information is included in this section. Make it clear and precise to avoid confusing your target audience. Also, always remember a report is written after the experiment. This is essential in determining the tense to use in your report.
Outline all the materials you will need for the experiment. In most cases, the materials are already stated in the instruction. Professors tend to give a detailed list of what a student may need before an experiment starts. However, if that is not stated, it is advisable to read the experiment's requirements keenly to ensure that all materials are noted down. By the time one writes a report, you will have already identified all materials/apparatus; therefore, this section should be straightforward.
Procedures are written in chronological order in which the student completed the experiment. The procedure is not a duplication of the manual but a description of what the student actually did. In case one has to repeat a given section, please note it down in the procedure. The third person past tense is used. The procedure section should contain information about all the recorded variables, the observations that were noted, and the types of materials used in each step.
The sentences used in this section should be clear and easy to follow. If some else cannot duplicate your experiment, then you have not fully exhausted this section. Use simple language that can be understood by even those who have no prior knowledge of the experiment. Write the procedure without justifying any of your statements. To be more elaborative, you may use diagrams. It is, however, not a requirement. If your instructor would like an explanation or reasoning for why certain aspects are done, be sure to point that out in each step.
Data and Results
Data is what was collected during the experiment and is usually recorded in a table. Results have a range of formats. They can be calculations and tables. However, for clarity, results should be presented in a verbal form. Using numbers may be confusing hence the need to explain the results in an oral form. Graphs used should be clear, well-labeled, and easy to interpret. Draw the audience's attention by explaining what the graph is all about, using at least two sentences. The results section accomplishes its purpose through the careful evaluation of trends. Thus, one should not only focus on the exact results but rather on highlighting trends.
The results collected and recorded in the previous section are analyzed in this part. The calculation sets are further explained intensively. In essence, the results are being interpreted. Interpretation ranges from explaining why the results came to be how they are, the mistakes you might have made during the experiment, and, if necessary, what you think will improve the experiment. The perspectives shared in this section should try to be unbiased. If one feels the results gotten were not accurate, give why you think that is the case. Give the differences between the ideal theory and the experimental results.
The discussion is essentially meant to evaluate what the results collected mean. How well do they answer the questions the experiment was investigating and is the result relevant. The discussion should also explain the uncertainties and errors that the experiment might have presented and how that influenced the experiment's outcome.
The conclusion sector should be less than five sentences. Conclude the report by restating the findings of your experiments and give the key points one can derive from the experiment.
Figure and Graphs
Pictorial presentation of the experiment helps in understanding and interpreting the results. Make them descriptive and neat.
The reference section entails a list of all sources used in the experiment. They can be books or journal articles. Some tools help one to cite references correctly and are accessible on the web. Note the styling format required for the lab report in the instructions.
Lab report writing is an essential skill for college students as they directly contribute to one's grades. It takes time to learn how to write one effectively. With the guideline above, students will now have an easy time comprehending what is required of them when writing a lab report. Feel free to contact us in case you need further assistance in writing a lab report.
Lab reports are a good way for instructors to analyze whether students have grasped course contents. Therefore, strive to do your best, and where there is a challenge, always consult. There are many articles and books online. Utilize that to your advantage. However, you can still choose another option, which involves some helping you write the report. Many resourceful personnel are available in case you need assistance.