It is impossible to find a student, who has never completed a lab report. Basically, it is an explanation of what you have done throughout an experiment, what you have learned and what the obtained results can mean.
It is a vital part of a laboratory course and makes up a great share of a final grade. If your teacher gives an outline for the future work, don’t neglect it. Some tutors require to include a lab report to your lab notebook, while some of them ask for a separate paper. Below we offer you an outline of a regular lab report, which you may use in case you don’t know how and what to write about.
Here are the general sections your lab report should consist of. However, if your teacher has specific recommendations, you should follow them first.
A title page is not an essential part of your report but if your tutor wants it to be present, you shouldn’t worry and simply provide following details:
- Title of your experiment;
- Your name or names of your partners;
- Name of your tutor;
- The date of conducting a report or of its submitting.
The title of your report indicates what you have done throughout your assignment. It must be brief (not more than ten words) and contain a description of the key points of your experiment. If it is possible, start your title with a key word, not a simple ‘A’ or ‘The’.
Introduction and purpose
Your introduction should be not longer than one paragraph. It must explain objectives and goals of your laboratory work. Provide your hypothesis in a single sentence. If necessary, indicate basic information, summarizing how the experiment was conducted, stating experiment’s findings and providing conclusions you have made. Even if you are not required to write an introduction, you should still indicate goals of the experiments. This is where you should state hypothesis of the report.
Materials and methods
In the materials section you should make a list of all the tools and data you need to conduct the experiment.
The methodology section should be more comprehensive and describe all the steps you have taken, when working on the investigation. Try to be very detailed to give other students a chance to duplicate the experiment. Your ‘methods’ section should be written in a form of instructions, as if you are explaining others how to conduct the lab work. You can also include a diagram or a chart to make this section more visual and understandable.
You should present numbers you have obtained during the research in a table. Such data shows what you have achieved in the experiment, no interpretation is needed.
Here you need to describe all the results in words. In some cases, this section can be combined with the next one, creating a ‘Results and Discussion’ part.
Discussion and analysis
While the data part consists of numbers and the analysis part contains calculations and results of the study, in the discussion you interpret all the obtained results and determine whether the hypothesis was accepted or not. In this section you can discuss probable mistakes. You can also tell about the ways of improving the investigation in future.
It is a single paragraph, which summarizes all the information concerning the experiment. For example, acceptance of hypothesis, its meaning, etc.
Numbers and graphs
You need to label all the numbers and graphs with a title. Don’t forget to include measurement units. All of the figures should be mentioned in the text, starting with Figure 1.
If you have conducted the research based on work of others or you have cited someone, you need to make a list of the used sources, following formatting rules and peculiarities.