If your degree coursework has laboratory subjects then lab report writing forms an integral part of the same. Lab reports play a significant role in laboratory coursework and hence your grades. The purpose of a lab report is to identify the aim of your experiment, explain the procedure you followed, describe the observations, and conclude with the learnings and outcome. A lab report is a combination of your theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge.
Lab report writing: The importance of a good lab report
A well-written lab report not only records the expected and observed results but also identifies and provides the reasoning behind the observations and deviations. A lab report helps your instructor judge your understanding and comprehension of the concepts and principles on which the experiment is based on.
Lab report writing has to be accurate and follow certain set formats. Lab reports can differ in length and contents based on the subject or experiment in question but the basic format followed in writing lab reports is more or less similar. Before starting with the lab report, plan the timelines for various sections of the report so that you can give the required time and attention to each part of the lab report.
Lab report format: Key sections
The following sections are an integral part of lab report writing
1. Lab Report Title Page
The title page states the title of the experiment, the name of the people who conducted the experiment, the name of the lab instructor, and the date the experiment was performed. The first thing your reader will see is the title of the experiment. The title of the lab report should be precise and clear such that your reader can understand the main point of the experiment. You can make use of keywords in the title while writing a lab report.
2. Lab Report Abstract
An Abstract is an optional part of lab report writing and is usually not required for short experiments. An abstract gives an overview of the experiment and gives a brief of the purpose, key findings, and conclusion of the experiment. While writing the lab report make sure that the abstract is of a single paragraph of about 100-150 words. The abstract should ideally be written at the end in lab report writing so that you can summarise the experiment content precisely.
3. Lab Report Introduction
The purpose of the introduction in lab report writing is to state the hypothesis, aim, and objectives of the experiment. The theories, previous research, and formulas relevant to the particular experiment are also discussed in this section. This may also include the description of any specialized equipment used while experimenting. The purpose of the experiment is to be clearly mentioned in the introduction section of the lab report.
4. Lab Report Method
Describing the steps that you followed while experimenting is an essential part of lab report writing. You should provide the procedure as detailed step-by-step instructions so that anyone who reads your experiment can duplicate the same. You can also add diagrams and flowcharts to make it easier for the reader to understand the process. Diagrams make comprehending the visual setup easier. The diagram of the experimental setup should be clearly labelled.
In the section of lab report writing, you should also include the materials and equipment that were used in the experiment. Also include any specific precautions one has to take while experimenting, any difficulties faced, and how they were resolved.
5. Lab Report Results
The findings of the experiment are presented in this section of the lab report. The results are usually presented in a tabular format as well as using graphs. The graphs and tables should be clearly labelled and properly referred to in the text of the lab report. If any calculations were involved in arriving at the result you can add the same here. If the calculations are too detailed you can add them to the appendix of the report. Use online Calculators or math problem solvers to do the calculations accurately.
6. Lab Report Discussion & Analysis
Interpretation of the results obtained is done in this section of the lab report. You can identify and analyze any trends observed in the experimental data. Comparison between the expected and actual data and the possible explanation for the differences if any are also to be added here. Any unexpected results or sources of error can also be explained in this portion of the lab report.
You can also give suggestions on how the experiment could be further improved to get more accurate results.
7. Lab Report Conclusion
This section of lab report writing is intended to deliver the take-home message and sums up the outcomes and learnings of the experiment. Do not introduce any new ideas or findings in the conclusion. Briefly mention the purpose of the experiment again, followed by the main findings which answer the research questions. Any limitations faced while carrying out the experiment or interpreting the results should be mentioned here.
8. Lab Report References
Your lab report may include in-text citations as a part of the introduction where you have mentioned previous research and theories. In-text citations can also be a part of your discussion or conclusion section if you compare your findings with already published data. Full citations corresponding to the in-text citations should be mentioned as a separate list after the concussion section. You can follow the referencing style given in your lab manual or ask your instructor about which style to be followed.
9. Lab Report Appendices
You might have some information such as detailed calculations, tables, graphs, etc. that cannot be accommodated in the main lab report. In such cases, you can prepare appendices that are properly titled and given a number or letter. These appendices should be referred to by the number or letter in the relevant portion of the main lab report.
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