December 20, 2014 - Tom Maylor
7 Tips for Writing a Lab Report
As a former student, I can tell that lab reports are among the most common assignments at universities, especially if you study Physics or Biology, like I used to. In order to make your report good you need to remember that it has not only to demonstrate the data you got during an experiment or an observation process, but also show your understanding of these results. Recording figures of the research is not enough, you need to provide a comparison of expected and actual results, explain the differences and the reasons why they occurred. How to achieve it? Here are some tips that will help you improve your report writing skills.
Tip #1 Write your report according to the following structure: introduction, methods, experimental procedure, results, discussion, conclusion, references. This will make your paper easy to read and understand.
Tip #2 Make a proper introduction. The first few paragraphs of your paper need to define objectives and purposes of the experiment you are to perform. Introduction should explain the reader what the report is about. Ideally it has to be done in four, or at most five sentences. The information has to be precise, not general.
Tip #3 Do not give unnecessary information. In the procedure, you don’t have to describe all the processes, especially if they are well-known. The obligatory data is the course of the experiment and its results. You need to provide only information needed to repeat the experiment.
Tip #4 Provide comparison of actual and expected results. Are there any distinctions? Give reasons for their occurrence. Maybe the equipment didn’t measure properly, or the samples used in the experiment were not pure. The only thing you shouldn’t write is that it was your mistake, because that will mean you are an unskilled student.
Tip #5 Analyze your results in terms of theories. Most of the labs are designed for students to experience well-known laws or phenomena. Your task is to describe how they turn out in practice.
Tip #6 Compare the outcomes you’ve got with the previous researches done in a similar field. Chances are good as you are not the first one to raise the topic, so you can use the experience of the former investigators. It doesn’t mean you have to copy their results or plagiarize them. You need to contrast their results with yours and explain differences.
Tip #7 Conclusion shouldn’t be very extended. It has simply to state results of the lab and answer the following questions: what you did, what you found and why the outcomes were like that.