Whether you’re planning to pursue a career in the sciences or you need to simply take one of two science classes to fulfill your science requirement for your undergraduate degree, you’ll likely have to write lab reports during the course of your college career. Wondering how to write a lab report in college? They can be a bit different than how to write a lab report for a high school science class. So what’s the difference in how to write a lab report for a college professor? We’ve got some good recommendations on how to write a lab report to earn an A.
What is lab report?
Here are the basics. First, this assignment may also be referred to as a scientific report. These reports convey the process and the results of a conducted experiment. The purpose of a lab report is to outline what tools were used, what process the scientist used to conduct an experiment, as well as all results found throughout this process. It should be extremely detailed; every detail should be accounted for to allow another scientist to conduct the same experiment and compare any results. A well-written report will not only have details but also have quantities of any measurable items. The final aspect of this report discusses the relevance of the data collected. Scientists interpret the data and add it to the larger base of scientific knowledge. While undergraduate students will likely not be conducting ground-breaking research, the practice of writing this kind of report is useful to all students. It strengthens the skills of logical organization, attention to detail, and critical thinking.
Lab Report Outline
Wondering how to write a lab report? Start with an outline. Most assignments of this nature follow a basic outline. Every report outline should follow a general format which includes the following:
- An introduction
- Methods and materials
Before conducting any experiment, it’s a good idea to create a lab report outline. This will help you organize notes as you conduct the experiment and put them in the correct sections when it’s time to write your official report.
Lab Report Format
Once you’ve conducted the experiment and have the results, it’s time to complete the lab report format. Not sure how to write a lab report? Here are the most common sections – broken down into more manageable aspects:
This section should be one or two concise paragraphs introducing the experiment as well as discussing its relevance. It is also appropriate to discuss previous research and its outcomes as it relates to your experiment.
A hypothesis is a testable idea and the basis for the experiment. It should clearly state what the experiment is designed to figure out.
Methods and Materials
This section should discuss how the researcher tested the hypothesis. It should provide a list of every single tool used in the experiment as well as quantities of liquids if applicable. Beyond the materials, it should additionally discuss the method, or approach, used to conduct the experiment and why this particular method was the best approach.
The results section is short and to the point. It should provide only raw data ascertain during the experiment. This section is often completed in a visual format should as a table or a graph.
While the results section provides raw data, the discussion section exists to interpret this data in context. It should explore whether or not the data collected supports or refutes the stated hypothesis, as well as the relevancy of the data. This is also the appropriate section to discuss any limitations of the conducted experiment as well as how this information can be used in the scientific and great community.