If you are taking a course that requires lab work, then sooner or later you are going to have to write a laboratory report. Basically, a college lab report explains the steps you took when conducting an experiment, the key takeaways, and the results. Most times your lab instructor will give you a format to follow which can make the whole writing process go smoothly, but sometimes you might need to format it yourself. If you are in the latter scenario, you can structure your lab report by including the sections discussed in this article.
Title pages are not an essential section to add to your college lab report, but they are nice to have. Your instructor might tell you to add a title page depending on their preferences. A great title page will have the title of the report, course number, your name, names of all your lab partners, the name of the instructor, the date of the experiment, and the date you submitted the report. So be sure to clarify that with your instructor and find out if one is needed.
Coming up with a great title for your lab report is no joke, but this is one of the most important parts of the essay and will instantly communicate to the reader what the experiment is all about. For example, a good report title would be: “How Driving while Texting can Worsen Inattentional Blindness.” As you can see, the reader can instantly tell what your report is about simply by looking at the title.
The introduction is usually only one or two sentences, but that should be enough to tell the reader the purpose of the report. The introduction is where you establish your hypothesis, stating the reasons why your experiment is relevant and what it is trying to achieve (the objectives).
You can also use the introduction to provide a little background information for the reader to further understand the experiment. By telling the reader the objectives of the experiment, you can set the stage and use the remaining sections to show if the experiment succeeded or not and then summarize everything in the conclusion.
Outlining the methods you used – the procedures – is an important part of any scientific experiment. Other people also need to be able to conduct the same experiment and get the same results in order to add credibility to your conclusions. That is why this section of your lab report needs to be incredibly detailed if it is to achieve its intended purpose, which is to guide someone through the process of replicating the lab experiment. Do everything you can to make each instruction as clear as possible (use diagrams if necessary) so that everyone’s independent investigation yields the same results.
In this section, all the data obtained from running the experiment is presented in a numerical format using a table. It can also be presented using graphs and drawings, depending on what you see fit. They key here is not to analyze the data in any way but just to merely present it to the reader.
Results and Discussion
This is where you discuss the results of the experiment. The results should be explained clearly and succinctly to the reader. And you should use any means necessary to present the data in a meaningful way using graphs (which is the primary method for a majority of lab reports), charts, tables and other methods of representing data. This part of the lab report has to be purely factual and should match the data (this does not mean that you should repeat the data).
In a longer report, you can actually split the results and the discussions and talk about them in separate sections. In a shorter report, you can combine this section with the conclusion.
In the conclusions section, you need to summarize the entire experiment in a single paragraph. This involves summing up the main points, the methods used and telling the reader if the experiment was successful or not. You can also tell the reader what the success or failure of the experiment means – in case of failure, an explanation should be provided as to why you think the experiment failed.
You must also remember that the conclusion is meant to signify the end of the report, meaning this is not the place to introduce new information or leave the reader guessing.
If your lab report contains information from other sources, you should not forget to reference them. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism since you are trying to use other people’s work as your own without giving them credit. If your instructor has provided a format for your report, they will most likely tell you which referencing style to use as well.
Knowing how to format a lab report is not only important for your college work, it is something that you will also be constantly doing when you actually get a job at a laboratory. By including the sections in this article in your custom written lab report, you will make sure that the reader understands your experiment and why it was conducted. It will also allow you to pass your course.