student reporting labs

Disclaimer: I haven’t written a lab report in years, so make sure that you check formatting, etc. with the relevant course leader or professor.

Title page:

  • Not all lab reports will require a page, but some professors like them. The page should:
    • State the title of the experiment.
    • State your name, and that of any lab partners.
    • State your instructor’s name.
    • Show the date that the lab was performed, and the date of submission.

The title:

  • Your title should be brief, and it should describe the main aim of the experiment.
  • The introduction.
  • Use this to explain the objectives of the experiment. State the hypothesis. If you need to, you can include some background information. Summarise how the lab was performed, sate the findings and then list your conclusions. You don’t always need to include all of this, but you do need to include the purpose of the experiment. Try to answer these questions:
    • Why was this study performed?
    • What knowledge already exists about this subject?
    • What is the specific purpose of the study?

Materials:

  • List everything that you used in your experiment. You can also describe how you used it.

Methods:

  • Describe the steps you took. It might be easier to note these down as you perform the lab so that you don’t forget anything when it comes to the write up. 
  • You need to provide sufficient detail for the reader to be able to replicate your experiment; think of it as directions. 
  • Including where you performed the study might also be relevant.

Data:

  • If you have numerical data, present it as a table or graph.
  • Some professors have their own preferences about this section, so you might want to discuss it with them.

Results:

  • Describe what the data means.

Discussion & Analysis:

  • Include any calculations you performed on the data. 
  • Interpret your data, and determine whether your hypothesis was accepted or rejected. 
  • You can also discuss any mistakes or limitations of the lab.

Conclusions:

  • This should be a single paragraph that sums up what happened in the lab, including how the results related to your hypothesis.

Extras:

  • Some professors will have word limits; these might be for the whole report, or they might set a limit for each section. Find out if you have a limit and what it is.
  • Give your graphs and figures titles. Label the axes, and be sure to include the measuremeny units.
  • Make sure that you reference, and that you reference in the correct style; your professor should be able to tell you what style to use. If you’re unsure, there are lots of websites that ask you to input information and will then generate a reference for you to copy and paste.
  • Referencing is much easier if you do it as you work, rather than struggling to find all of your resources at the end (when you risk missing something out)
  • Be consistent in your use of tense.
  • Don’t use contractions, or slang.

[59/100] days of productivity - 04.04.2016:

Ever since Spring Break, I’ve been skipping days of productivity! It feels so blegh, but it’s hard to post every day because some days I don’t have a lot or it’s the same thing! Anyway, here’s how my pre-lab is going so far. 

[22/100] days of productivity - 02.08.2016:

I’m writing a rough draft of a biology lab report. I got about 4 hours of sleep last night, so I’m extremely surprised I’m not dead by now!!!!