This is a quick guide to help you learn how to write a scientific laboratory report that explains the details of your experiment clearly and explicitly.
Are you studying to be a scientist? Or in other words, are you studying biology, physics, chemistry, or any science-related course?
If so then you need to learn how to write a scientific lab report.
Writing a lab report is no easy task though. Sometimes your professor may give you an outline or you may be required to come up with your own.
In this guide for writing a scientific laboratory report, you’re going to learn how to structure or format your lab report as well as the tips on how to write an excellent report.
Read on to learn more.
What Is A Lab Report?
A lab report is a document that demonstrates what was done in an experiment, lessons learned, and the significance of the results obtained from the experiment.
A good scientific lab report has a title page, abstract, introduction, materials used in the experiment, procedures or methods used, results obtained, discussion about the results obtained, references.
As you can see, scientific lab reporting can be overwhelming due to the sections you’re required to include. However, it doesn’t have to be because you’re going to learn how to do it right here.
General Format Of A Lab Report
Depending on the guidelines or instructions provided, some lab reports may have a simple or lengthy format with the introduction and several other sections.
Below is the general format of a lab report:
Not all scientific lab reports require a title page. Your professor may ask you to include a title page or not.
Generally, the title page includes the title of the experiment, your name, and other lab partners, your professor’s name, and the date the experiment was done.
Your lab report title should be brief, descriptive, and accurate to make your report easy to understand.
The abstract is an overview of the report (around 50 to 150 words long depending on the length of the lab report you’re writing.
The abstract explains the purpose of the experiment, procedures followed in the experiment briefly, and the results obtained.
The introduction explains the purpose of the experiment. In other words, it helps the reader understand why the experiment was performed. You may also want to provide some background information as well but keep everything brief and informative.
Equipment & Materials
Your professor or someone reading your report would want to know all the equipment or materials you used to carry out the tes. List the name and number of the equipment. You could also find out from your instructor to know whether you should include this information.
This is where you describe the steps you followed during the experiment or investigation. Think of the methods or procedures section of a lab report as the recipe chefs use when cooking meals.
Keep your procedures as detailed and sufficient as possible so that someone reading your report can follow them and come up with similar results with their experiment.
When writing this section, make it as if you’re giving direction to someone else to follow. You’d also want to incorporate graphics or diagrams to help make things sufficiently descriptive.
Provide numerical data you obtained from your experiment using the procedures listed above in a table. In other words, provide a list of the information you recorded when performing the experiment.
In this section, provide the results or outcomes for the experiment you performed. You may include some calculations or questions. Sometimes your instructor may ask you to present data interpretations or not. Confirm with your instructor to know what to or not to include in this section.
Sometimes the Results and Discussion sections are combined as one depending on the instructions.
However, your professor may ask you to write them in different sections. The discussion section provides interpretations of the data and determines whether or not a hypothesis was accepted or rejected.
This is where you sum up your experiment while commending the outcomes obtained. You may also provide recommendations about the outcomes for your readers.
The last and most important section of lab report writing is References. You’re most likely going to use other scientists’ work or cite facts that require documentation. Make a references list at the end of your document.
That’s all about the format of a scientific lab report.
Let’s learn a few practical tips to make the writing process simple for you.
Tips On How To Write A Good Science Lab Report
Follow these tips to make your lab report writing more fun.
Start Writing As Soon As Possible
Procrastination is one of the challenges most students are yet to overcome. The temptation to postpone your writing can make you end up with no time for revisions.
See, lab report writing involves getting feedback and revising your report based on your instructor’s comments. If you postpone your writing, you might end up with no time for feedback and revisions.
To avoid this, start writing your report as soon as possible.
Focus On Readability
To get your report right, ask yourself this question: If I were reading this report, would I be able to imitate the procedures and get similar outcomes?
What this means is that even though the data you collect and procedures you undertake are important, your report should be easy to read by anyone who lays their hands on it.
Create An Outline Before Your Start Writing
You might be asking yourself “what if the report is a time-sensitive one will I not be wasting my time creating a report?”
See, whether you’re writing an urgent report or you have all the time to write it, ensure you create an outline before you begin writing.
Of course, an outline isn’t the magic to writing an excellent report fast but it helps to ensure all the important sections of the report are captured.
Pick a pen and paper or open your word processor and write down all the necessary sections of your report in their order.
Make a summary of each section beneath each section. Check with your instructor to know the format you’re required to follow.
Don’t Forget About Tables, Figures, & Graphs
These components make your lab report colorful and descriptive. In your body paragraphs, remember to weave these components logically and intuitively.
Make A Good Title & Abstract
The title and abstract of your report are two important sections that receive the most attention. Some people will read the title or abstract and never scroll down. You need to make the title eye-catching and your abstract informative to make the reader want to read further. Keep the reader as brief as two paragraphs or about 200 words long.
Make A Convincing Introduction
Once you have attracted the reader with your catchy title and informed them about your experiment, the introduction should convince them that what they are about to read is important.
The introduction should provide the background information. It should explain the problem the experiment is trying to solve, its significance, and whether the problem was solved or not.
Once you get the introduction right, the rest of the report should be easy to write.