The Importance of Writing a Lab Report

May 21, 2019

Scientific research is a group activity. The researchers conduct experiments to test hypotheses about biological phenomena. After the experiments are completed and duplicated, the researchers try to persuade others to accept or reject their hypotheses by presenting the data and their interpretations.

The Laboratory Report or the scientific paper is the vehicle of persuasion and when it is published, it is available to other scientists for review. If the results resist criticism, they become part of the accepted body of scientific knowledge.

The correct development of the practice, the precision of the empirical data and the theoretical domain of the subject related to the practice are some essential factors for a good development of the experimental subjects. However it is necessary to present them in the form of organized and logical text. This is the role of the Lab Report.

The Purposes of the Laboratory Report

The Laboratory Report must, first of all, portray what was actually accomplished in the experiment, being of fundamental importance the presentation of a well-ordered and easily manipulated document.

In addition, it should be as succinct as possible and describe the experimental activities carried out, the theoretical basis of these activities, the results obtained and their discussion, as well as the citation of the bibliography consulted.

A Laboratory Report serves to communicate the final results of a laboratory work, research, study or research. That is why it is very important that students learn how to make a Lab Report, which is an important stage in learning and fixing content.

The accomplishment of practical classes and the elaboration of Laboratory Report

One of the main ways to ensure that students become aware that that moment spent in a laboratory, is an important stage of fixing the content is the completion of Laboratory Report. However, it is essential that this Report is well structured and encourages the student to participate in the class.

What we often see is that the Reports are restricted only to the explanation of the experience performed or to the description of what was seen in the room. This leads students to create very simple Reports, since they do not take into account scientific knowledge, based only on personal opinions.

For this reason, in order to instruct students to prepare a Quality Lab Report, some key points should be taken into account, such as: Date, Title, Abstract, Introduction, Objectives, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion and Bibliography .

The Basic Guidelines for Writing a Lab Report

With the accomplishment of a Laboratory Report, the student will be able to have a broad vision of the class held and theoretical basis to discuss the results. Thus, the lesson will not only be the demonstration of a structure or a process. A Laboratory Report must have:

  • Date
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Goals
  • Materials and methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

The organization of each part of the text of the Laboratory Report

Now follows the definition of each item listed and what should be written in each one of them.

Date: The date on which this experimental or research work was done.

Title: The most obvious part of the work. The title should be less than ten words and should reflect the content of the article. A good headline is straightforward and uses keywords that researchers in a given field can recognize.

Abstract: The purpose of an abstract is to allow the reader to decide whether or not to read the entire Report. A good summary is a concise summary (100-200 words) of the purpose of the Report, the data presented and the main conclusions of the author.

The abstract should only be written after all the work has been completed, as it should provide the overview of the content in a summarized way.

Introduction: The introduction defines the subject of the Report. It should outline the objectives for the research undertaken and give the reader sufficient background to understand the rest of the Report. A good introduction will answer a number of questions, including the following:

  • Why was this study performed?
  • What knowledge already exists on this subject?
  • What is the specific purpose of the study?
  • The specific hypotheses and the experimental design relevant to the investigation of the theme should be described.

Objectives: The student should focus on responding to what is intended with that research. It should consist of a brief description of the Report, ie you should indicate the purpose of the report, the general procedures followed, the most important results and the conclusions drawn.

Materials and Methods: As the name implies, the Materials and Methods used in the experiments should be reported in this section. The difficulty in writing this section is to provide enough detail for the reader to understand the experiences in having seen it in practice.

However, it is still necessary to describe special pieces of equipment and the general theory of the tests used. This can usually be done in a small paragraph, possibly along with a drawing of the experimental apparatus. Generally, this section tries to answer the following questions:

  • What materials were used?
  • How were they used?
  • Where and when was the job done?
  • Results: The results section should summarize the data obtained from the experiments. The data should be organized into tables, figures, graphs, photographs, etc. All figures and tables should have descriptive titles and should include a caption explaining all symbols, abbreviations or special methods used. Numbers and tables should be numbered separately and should be referred to in the text by number. Figures and tables should be clear and explanatory, ie the reader should be able to understand them without referring to the text. Many authors organize and write the results section before the rest of the Report.

Discussion: This section should not only be a reformulation of the results, but should emphasize the interpretation of the data, relating them to existing theory and knowledge. Suggestions for improving techniques or experimental design can also be included here. In writing this section, the author should explain the logic that allows him to accept or reject his original hypotheses, and should also be able to suggest future experiences that may clarify areas of doubt in his results.

Conclusion: Together with the results this is the most important part of a Report. The most important results should be analyzed and, whenever possible, compared with data already available in the bibliography. The student is expected to describe what has been learned. It is fundamental that the conclusions are not copies of other materials, but rather made by the student himself.

Bibliography: This section cites all articles, books or sites cited in the Report. The rules for making reference to the material used should be indicated by the teacher.

Recommendations on writing style

All scientific names must be in italics.

Numbers should be written as numbers when they are greater than ten or when they are associated with measurements. For example, 6 mm or 2 g. When a list includes major and minor numbers of ten, all numbers in the list can be expressed in numbers.

Try to divide the paragraphs correctly and use beginning and ending sentences that indicate the purpose of the paragraph. It is advisable to use short sentences rather than short sentences that may impair the meaning of the text.

Each sentence must have a subject and a verb.

Avoid using the first person (I / us) in writing. Writing should be in the third person, always in an impersonal way, using the passive voice in the past tense.

Ensure that pronouns refer to certain antecedent names to avoid misunderstanding of the text.

After writing a Report, a review is necessary, especially noting the lack of precision and ambiguity. Each sentence should present a clear message. All text must be written in a precise and logical manner.

Do not use colloquial language. Informal expressions or terms that are not strictly technical should be avoided. It is recommended to revise the text to remove redundant terms, clarify obscure points and rectify possible errors.

Special attention should be given to technical terms, results, formulas and mathematical expressions. The illustrations, tables, formulas and graphs should come in a more adequate sequence to the understanding of the text. They must be numbered and setups and captions must appear immediately below each one.

After work is completed

The Laboratory Report should be typed electronically, according to the standards indicated by the teacher. The graphs should be generated in Excel program, or another compatible program. The Ready Report should be printed on A4 sheet.