The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Formal Lab Report

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Formal Lab Report

LAB REPORT
A lab report is a formal type writing that deserves more attention than it gets in academic writing. Some students assume that their handwritten notes are enough after conducting experiments. So, it’s not strange to hear those that plead: “please write my lab report!”

Yet a well-written lab report is easy to produce. Whether you’re conducting an experiment for your Chemistry, Biology, or Physics course—writing a good lab report is as simple as following a particular format and observing a few guidelines.

In this post, we’ll see: how to write a lab report. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume that we’re writing a physics lab report. Though the pointers we get here can be applied to any other experiment-based report.

What’s a lab report?

LAB REPORT (1)

According to the Massey University, a lab report is “written to describe and analyze a laboratory experiment that explores a scientific concept.”

Yet that simple definition belies the significance of such a report to your coursework. See, it’s not all about recording your experiment’s details. It’s also important to give your professor a sense of how your findings are relevant to your subject area.

If you’re dealing with a physics concept, say motion under constant acceleration, your report should show how gravity affects acceleration. And if your outcomes prove that indeed acceleration is constant under gravity, you should provide the values and arguments to support those claims.

And don’t forget, your explanations should be grounded in established research studies. That’s why knowing how to use references is also crucial to writing a formal lab report.

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Lab report format

LAB REPORT (2)

The first step in learning how to write a lab report is to know how to format a report. See, writing a document, such as this lab report example, is straightforward if you can present your findings concisely and correctly.

But one thing you should always keep in mind is that your professor has a final word concerning how you’ll format your report. Ultimately, how you follow the prescribed instructions is as important when carrying out the actual experiment as when you’re writing the report.

All the same, here are the sections you should always include in your lab report format:

  • The title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods and materials
  • The experiment’s procedure(s)
  • Results or findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Reference list and/or appendices

I – Title page

This is the cover sheet of your document. It should include the name/title of the experiment and any other identifier, such as the test number.

Also, include the names of the other students that you collaborated with in the experiment (if any).

The date is important too. But so is any other detail your professor might require you to include on this page.

II – Executive summary/abstract

This section summarizes the details of your report. It should be brief enough to allow your professor skim over it to get a sense of what your work’s about. However, it should also be detailed sufficiently to accommodate your experiment’s pertinent findings like:

  • Experiment’s purpose
  • Summary of findings
  • Main discussion points
  • Summary of conclusions

Aim to use 150 – 200 words in this section (like in this lab report example).

III – Introduction

In this section, you should explain what the objective of the task and the conceptual underpinnings that justify it.

It’s standard practice to state the purpose in one or two sentences. So, you should choose your wording carefully so that your intent is apparent at first glance.

The background research sub-section should explain which concepts you wish to use in the experiment. That will also lead you to state the hypothesis, which will direct the rest of the task.

IV – Materials and methods

For this section, it’s usually enough to list all the materials that you used. And the methods employed should be described in accurate detail.

Most students find that bullet lists or numbered lists are adequate for describing the materials. However, if your experiment requires the use of complex procedures, using diagrams could serve just as well.

V – Procedure

This is a critical section, because traditionally, other scientists refer to your descriptions of the method used to be able to duplicate the experiment. Thus, you should provide accurate descriptions.

Note: you shouldn’t include any findings in this section. There’s a section dedicated for that already.

Your professor might instruct you on how to write the procedures. But usually, you should write it in a prose format—using paragraphs that follow the logical progression of an essay.

VI – Results/findings

This is where you present what you recorded during the experiment. Make sure that you include all the data, such as the raw results, calculations, and a description of your observations.

Your professor will pay a lot of attention to this section. So, it’s important that you use the correct notations and symbols (e.g. α, β, ω, etc.).

VII – Discussion

Although the other sections contribute significantly to the final score of your report, you professor will look at what you wrote in this section to get a sense of how you argue.

Your analysis and critical thinking skills should be on display here. Discuss your results by stating what you expected and what you actually recorded, for example. Likewise, explain how you think you could improve in subsequent tasks.

VIII – Conclusion

Be brief in your conclusion. A sentence or two would do. Restate the purpose and declare whether your experiment met or missed the set objectives.

IX – References/bibliography and/or appendices

Do you remember the existing research you quoted in the introduction? The bibliography lists all your sources. Just make sure that you follow the given format when recording them.

The appendices section could be quite comprehensive if you’re allowed to include it. If you find yourself struggling here, a research writing service could show you how to create the graphics that are usually included in this section.

Finally, remember:

  • Write the lab report in the third
  • Using peer-reviewed research for your sources is wise.
  • Good lab notes will make writing the lab report

If I were you, the statement “write my lab report” would become a rarity after following these guidelines. Still, there’s no substitute for continued practice if you want to perfect the art of writing a good report.

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