A lab report states a scientific experiment's purpose, methods, results, and conclusions.

A lab report aims to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method by conducting and evaluating a practical laboratory experiment. Therefore, this type of assignment is usually shorter than a research paper.

Lab reports are commonly used in engineering, science, technology, and math (STEM) fields. This article focuses on how to prepare and write a lab report.

What is a lab report?

Lab report is a paper documenting the result of an experiment. People develop this form of paper to demonstrate the student's understanding of the experimental procedure and the relevance of the results. Also, the primary goal of the lab report is not documentation of the procedure but rather an illustration of the student's knowledge of the theory behind the experimental procedure and their ability to interpret the behaviour of the variables. In addition, the student must analyze any discrepancy and identify a possible cause supported by theory. Therefore, the laboratory report is a comprehensive document of the entire experiment process with theoretical analysis.

Components of a lab report

Title

The report's title should be short but descriptive, indicating the qualitative or quantitative nature of the experiment with the primary goal or area of focus.

Abstract

This should be followed by an abstract, 2-3 sentences giving a practical summary. The abstract shows the reader the main results of the experiment and helps them quickly decide whether the rest of the report is relevant to their use. Remember that the entire report should be written in a passive voice.

Introduction

The introduction provides context of the experiment in a few paragraphs and relevant diagrams. While a short introduction outlining the history of the techniques or materials used in the experiment is appropriate, the bulk should outline the experiment's goals, creating a logical flow to the next section.

Method

Some reports require you to write down the material used, which can be combined with this section. 

This is usually the section that teachers and demonstrators care about the least. However, unforeseen experimental setup or technique changes can also be documented here.

Result

The results section should include the raw data collected in the experiment and the calculations to be performed. In addition, it is usually appropriate to include diagrams; Depending on the experiment, these can range from scatter plots to chromatograms.

Discussion

  • Discussion is the essential part of the lab report as it is your chance to show that you deeply understand the practical and the theory behind it. Teachers and lecturers give utmost importance to this section while marking the report.

Conclusion

Finally, a short paragraph to conclude the lab report. It should summarize the findings and provide an accurate review of the experiment.

Reference

Giving references is essential in scientific writing; It's like giving a shoutout (known as a citation) to the original provider of the information.

How to write a lab report

The following are five steps for writing a lab report:

1. Read the instructions carefully

Before starting your lab report, read the instructions for the assignment carefully. Sometimes, an instructor may provide the same instructions for each lab report assignment in the class. Use a highlighter and pencil to highlight key requirements and annotate ideas or questions. Pay attention to unique details. For example, you may be required to fill out reports in a special lab notebook. You may also review the class syllabus for any information regarding quality expectations for laboratory work and assignments. After reviewing the instructions, ask the instructor any questions.

2. Research

Do research to locate and study examples of lab reports. This can allow you to understand better these documents' purpose, structure, and language. Read lab reports for experiments that apply to your region. Pay attention to the information in these reports and the techniques used by the author. You may also discover creative experiments that inspire you to develop your project ideas.

3. Develop an Outline

Instructors often provide an outline of a lab report to students. If this applies to you, review the outline carefully and complete all assignment requirements. If not, you can find many free lab reports outlines and templates online. You can also create your outline based on the common components of a lab report and the specific nature of your experiment. Using an outline will help you plan your experiment, organize your ideas, present information clearly, and write your report efficiently.

4. Fill in your outline with information

After studying the instructions, researching, and creating a complete outline, you can fill your lab report with data. You can write any information before use. Then, take detailed notes about what you do and what you find during your experiment. Consider assigning a team member to document procedures and results if you're experimenting with a group. Later, you can add more information to your lab report using these notes.

5. Proofread and Revise

Be sure to proofread your report to correct any spelling or grammatical errors. You can also double-check to confirm that your writing is clear and understandable. If your report includes any calculations, check that your numbers are accurate and that the calculations are correct. Doing so can show your instructor your attention to detail and thoughtfulness. Additionally, it can enhance your scientific assessments' validity and credibility.

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