July 3, 2014 - Tom Maylor
What Is the Best Way of Writing a Lab Report(University Level)?
To tell you the truth, there is no best way to write a lab report, there is only a proper one. Lab reports are such a mundane assignment that they often seem to be very easy and fast to write. Yet, it’s not completely true. While a report is actually an account of your experiment, it is also analysis of its results, and you are not to forget this. In the process of writing, there are several rules you should follow to make your report worth submitting. These are:
- Make sure you clarified all instructions you have BEFORE conducting the experiment itself, not to mention the report. General rules are the same, yet the wrong choice of citation style might have adverse effect on otherwise perfect paper. Ask your instructor for any guidance he might give.
- Stick to the structure. Some parts are optional (references), while others are mandatory and you should not omit them. We’ve described the structure of a lab report in other posts, yet let’s repeat it:
- Title page (names of lab partners and instructors, title of the experiment and its date)
- Abstract (short summary)
- Introduction (what and why are you researching?)
- Materials and Methods (what means and techniques are you using?)
- Procedure (what are the steps of the experiment?)
- Results (what values did you get in the end?)
- Discussion (what does it mean?)
- Conclusions (sum up the above mentioned in two sentences)
- References (name each source you used)
- Be concise and stay focused. A lab report, especially if it is a university level assignment, has to demonstrate your skills of a young scholar, and laconic and professional description of the experiment procedure is one of the major ones.
- Pay special attention to your hypothesis and background information you provide. Although you should assume that the reader is familiar with main concepts, there is often a temptation to leap from background notes to your research without explaining WHY you decided to conduct the experiment at all.
- In the Discussion chapter, make sure you addressed all the results obtained and link them with what you were writing in the Introduction. Don’t let them hang loose!
- Double-check your graphic objects. Each of them has to be entitled, easy to read and relevant to your research.
- Proofread thoroughly. It is always useful to have someone else read your paper. Even though a person might not be familiar with the field at all, he will point out typos and grammar mistakes you missed.
- Stick to scientific language and format requirements.
A university lab report is not simple, yet it’s not difficult as well. Once you grasp the idea and memorize the main rules, you will be able to write as many of them as you need.