Wondering what a lab report is and how one can write a good lab report?
Well, look no further!
To begin with, let us take a look at the definition of what a lab report is.
A lab report is a written document that describes and analyses a laboratory experiment that investigates a scientific concept.
And now that we have known the definition, how about we go straight into knowing how you can write a good lab report, shall we?
A good lab report entails a title, an introduction, procedure, results, discussions, and a conclusion. They are explained below.
A good lab report is supposed to draw the attention of the one reading your report. It should clearly represent the work presented.
When writing a title for a good lab report, the use of ‘the’ as the first word in the title should be avoided. This is because the use of ‘the’ may result in misleading searches when one uses the database.
A lab report should have an introduction because it gets to explain where the concepts were obtained from.
The introduction should start in a broad way and then become more specific.
Now, when writing the introduction
- Start off with a very broad introduction to the topic.
- Next, narrow down the introduction to talk more specifically about the topic you are investigating, and why the study you did was so important.
- The introduction should also include a review that discusses what is already known about the topic. This is where you will summarize the research you have done about your topic.
Here, you should indicate what properties of the system you are measuring. Normally, the properties of the system being measured are the characteristics of the system change. I.e. Changing the temperature, and even measure its effect such as the length of a metal rod.
You should specify such measurement details as the type of standard or instrument used to make the measurement. For example, a meter ruler, vernier caliper, etc.
It is important to also give instrument uncertainties. For example, if using a meter rule, one can say that the length of the rod is measured using a laboratory meter rule accurate to within 1 cm. You may also give, if necessary, an apparatus diagram.
Additionally, when writing a lab report please take note of the following:
- Describe the exact procedure you followed when carrying out your experiment.
- Describe in sufficient detail to allow for the replication of findings.
- Be concise in your description and omit irrelevant details. You don’t need to include details regarding instructions.
- Assume the reader has no knowledge of what you did and ensure that he/she would be able to replicate your study exactly by what you write in this section.
- Write in the past tense.
- Do not justify or explain the method. An example is when you start explaining why you chose a particular sampling method.
- Only give enough detail for someone to repeat the experiment. By this, it simply means that you are concise in your writing.
Here is where one presents the descriptive statistics followed by inferential statistics.
The results section is where one reports the means and standard deviations for each level.
In the results, one should:
- Name the statistical test being used.
- Report appropriate statistics.
- Report the magnitude, i.e. Are the results significant or not?
- Avoid interpreting the results (save this for the discussion).
- Make sure the results are presented clearly and concisely. A table can be used to display descriptive statistics if this makes the data easier to understand.
- Do not include any raw data.
After the results is the discussion.
Its purpose is to interpret your results, that is, explaining, analyzing, and comparing them. In simpler terms, the discussion is the point in which the researcher stands back from the results and talks about them within the broader context.
It is termed as the most important part of the report because it is where you demonstrate that you understand the experiment beyond the level of simply doing it.
This discussion section often begins by making a statement as to whether the findings in the lab experiment support or do not support the expected findings stated in the concept.
Additionally, the discussion also provides the opportunity to compare the results to the research of others.
As we continue, it is an important matter to note that one should not discuss any outcomes that are not presented in the results from the lab experiment.
Now when you reach here, the conclusion should be a single paragraph that sums up what happened in the experiment, whether your concept was accepted or rejected, and what this means. In simpler terms, the conclusion part is where you present your findings from the experiment.
This is where you demonstrate that there is something that has been learned something by stating that which you have learned. This is important because it helps one to understand the value of the lab experiment and convinces the one reading your report that the experiment was a success. It is important to then be specific, providing details of what you have learned about the theory or principle at the center of the laboratory.
In the conclusion, it is important that as you evaluate the outcome objectively, taking a candid and unbiased point of view. Suppose that the outcome is not close to what you expected. Even then, after checking your results, give reasons why you believe that outcome is not consistent with the expected. Make it plain, simple.
State the mismatch between the experimental results and the theory, and discuss the sources of the differences in terms of the errors by offering logical inferences.
Also, it is in the conclusion that you get to suggest improvements for the lab experiment.
So, by including all the above as explained, without a doubt, you will have written a good lab report that will for sure help you attain higher grades in your studies.