Parts of a Lab Report: How to Structure Your Report Properly?
Parts of a lab report that should be definitely included:
The focus of the introductory paragraph is placed on the context or setting of the experiment or study. When it comes to any opening paragraph in a scientific work, it is essential to remember that it should put forward the purpose of conducting the experiment. Regarding any scientific research, the purpose is to provide a contribution to the research field in general. Therefore, it is crucial to provide a summary of the previously conducted studies as well as provide a discussion and analysis of the existing research. When talking about the purpose of the lab report, it is mainly concerned with providing one with an opportunity for learning. As such, if you wonder how to start a lab report, you need to outline the learning context, which will provide a niche for your report within a larger research field. As such, a lab report introduction aims to perform the following functions:
- Identify the learning context of the report.
- Provide the main goals of the lab.
- Offer a working hypothesis for the experiment.
- Lab report methods and materials
If needed, you may separate methodology and materials in different sections but if your lab report is not that much longer, you can combine them into one chapter. The main aim of this section is to pinpoint how the data was gathered and analyzed. In this section, you need to provide a step-by-step explanation of carrying out the laboratory experiment.
- Lab report results
Here you need to outline what you managed to find or reveal. This is the core of any scientific study or experiment. In your report, you have to inform about the findings and experiment outcomes. When you present your results, make sure you do it in an appealing way, i.e. by providing not only a written discussion but also a visual representation of the data in tables, graphs or diagrams.
- Lab report discussion
In the discussion chapter, you need to provide a clear and succinct interpretation of the research results. As such, you need to provide explanations of some things that may be confusing to the readers, analyze the findings, and (if needed) compare the findings of your research with some other credible research findings. You need to start your discussion chapter with a statement of whether your obtained research results match the research hypothesis mentioned in the introduction.
- Lab report conclusion
In the conclusion, please pinpoint what you have learned, what information you have acquired, etc. You may reflect once again on the reason why you have conducted specific research and what it has proved. In this section, you need to demonstrate what you have learned, whether you have enriched your knowledge, etc. It is also important to provide some details and examples of what made the experiment successful. If you lack clarity about how to conclude the paper, be sure to have a look at some lab report conclusion examples.
- Lab report abstract
Many students wonder how to write an abstract for a lab report. Actually, a lab report abstract does not differ from abstract writing for the other paper types. This is a brief overview of the paper that is normally presented in one paragraph up to 200 words. The main purpose of writing an abstract is to focus on the nature of the report as well as the scope of research.
- Lab report title page
Here you have to pinpoint what the report deals with and what it is about. You need to focus on the contents of the report. Normally, the lab report title should convey the idea of what the report is about, what it intends to prove, etc. It is important to formulate an effective title since it conveys the central idea of the laboratory work. Thus, be sure to make it as informative as possible.
- Lab report references
Provide a list of sources. Make sure all of them are cited in the text in the lab report. When formatting the sources, be sure that you adhere to the requirements of your institutional affiliation or specific instructions of your professor. Therefore, check with the instructions to ensure the formatting expected of you.
- Lab report appendices
Appendix in lab report provides additional materials that were used in the research process. You put their information that is not normally included in the main body of the lab report. For example, you may provide some drawings, graphs, images, tables, and other materials related to laboratory research.
Start with a Lab Report Cover Page
When you start work on your lab report project, be sure to start with the lab report cover page. The cover page should provide the title of the lab report, student`s name, date of submission, the day when the laboratory studies were carried out, and your counterparts (if the lab report is provided by a group of students). The cover page should be brief and informative. Sometimes, it may also have a sentence or two that summarizes the results of the research.
If you are eager to know how to write a good lab report, remember that you should pursue the main goal – to report on the main study findings and highlight their significance. At the same time, a successful lab report is more than just about presenting the data – it should well reflect on the student`s knowledge and overall comprehension when it comes to the main concepts or ideas of the study. A student should also explain why specific difficulties arose in the process of research, how they could have been eradicated, and how to overcome potential difficulties in the further studies.
What is a lab report? – It is an academic paper that documents the process and results of the conducted study. It should comprise of the following sections:
- A cover page.
- An abstract page.
- Introductory paragraph.
- Methodology and equipment (materials used).
- Description of the experimental process.
- Study results.
- Discussion of the results.
- Conclusive paragraph.
- A list of references/ bibliography.
The cover page is otherwise known as the title page. It has to present the following information: the title of the report (or the name of the conducted experiment), student`s name (or students` names if the report is provided by a team), and the date of submission. Make sure you formulate the lab report title in a clear and concise way. Readers should not be confused when reading your title of the report.
When it comes to the abstract, it should provide a concise overview of the experiment. Its main constituents should be the following: the purpose of the report, the main findings and results, the importance of the experiment (research), and the methods applied. Normally, the abstract should range from 100 to 200 words.
The introductory paragraph is not the same as the abstract, so it is essential to know the difference. The introduction is more specific and narrow: it should provide research objectives as well as the background of the study (experiment). It is essential to be concise and clear when introducing the topic. To make readers more aware of the significance and the essence of the research, it is crucial to provide detailed background description, pinpoint to the former research findings, and mention the formulas or some specific concepts the readers should be aware of.
Concerning methodology and equipment used, this can usually be a plain list. Still, you need to make sure it is clear to the readers. The methodology section should be accurate and fully discussed.
Results section is usually presented in the form of calculations, figures, diagrams, tables, etc. However, it does not mean that you should not discuss and analyze the results in verbal form. All the statistics, figures, and numbers you present should be properly discussed and interpreted.
Discussion of the research is the core part of your lab report. This section demonstrates that you have not merely completed the experiment but that you have understood it properly and can now explain it to others. Make sure you provide a comparison of the obtained results with those that you expected to get. Pay attention to the proper and in-depth analysis of the experimental error. When it comes to your research results, make sure to explain them in connection to the theory. What is really important, you need to relate the acquired results to the objectives of the experiment. Finally, it is advisable to provide analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the design you have chosen for the experiment.
Conclusion should be brief and concise and it should once again highlight the main research findings that you have obtained after performing the experiment. Do not introduce any new information but be sure that you can pinpoint to the future ways of improving the experiment.
The list of references page should provide a comprehensive and full list of all sources that you have referred to while writing your lab report. Make sure you adhere to the required citation or formatting style when you enlist the used sources.
The appendices is a section that is usually provided at the end of the paper after the references. It mainly contains information that is not provided within the body of the paper. These are some additional calculations, images, formulas, statistics, tables, figures, etc.
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