Those who have conducted laboratory tests as students or professionals are usually required to submit a lab report after the process. The purpose of this report is to demonstrate how well you understand the scientific method by conducting, then evaluating an experiment. A lab report format sample is significantly shorter compared to a research paper. Fields that use laboratory reports include technology, science, mathematics, and engineering.
- 1 Lab Report Examples
- 2 What is a lab report?
- 3 Lab Report Formats
- 4 Why do you need a lab report?
- 5 Lab Report Samples
- 6 What to include in your lab report?
- 7 Lab Report Templates
- 8 How to write a lab report?
Lab Report Examples
What is a lab report?
A lab report is a written document that describes and analyzes an experiment performed in a laboratory that involves a scientific concept. These are usually assigned for the following purposes:
- To conduct scientific research.
- To formulate a hypothesis or hypotheses about a specific event, behavior, or stimulus.
- To review relevant or related literature to justify the hypothesis.
- To allow another person to replicate your experiment by providing enough details and information.
- To apply statistics for the purpose of testing your hypothesis.
- To explore various theoretical explanations.
- To evaluate research methodically and objectively.
- To communicate precisely and concisely.
When it comes to lab reports, it’s impossible to depend on just one explanation for your results or findings. This means that you should provide as many relevant and potential interpretations as possible. Even when you discover that your findings don’t support your hypothesis, you should still consider those findings valuable.
You can use them to explain that within your study’s contextual constraints, your argument wasn’t reliable. As such, you can move on to other areas of research without making the same mistakes. Also, any findings you have can potentially open other avenues for other people to investigate your hypothesis even under varying conditions.
There are also possibilities that during your experiment, you experience unforeseen conditions or circumstances that weren’t possible to control and isolate. You can use these to justify your final results. Another important aspect that you should consider when writing your report is the grammatical style or voice you use.
In recent years, it’s become acceptable to use the active voice while making references to yourself whenever relevant. When making your report, you should check the instructions of your assignment to make sure you use the right voice. You also have to use a consistent voice throughout your report. If you will use a style guide, follow the guide from start to finish.
Lab Report Formats
Why do you need a lab report?
Laboratory reports are an essential aspect of the scientific process. Here are some reasons why you need this report:
- You can use it to communicate your findings in the lab to anyone who wasn’t present during the experiments. That way, they can understand and even replicate your experiment.
- You can use it for future experiments and studies or make suggestions for alterations to methods you have already used.
Make sure to write your laboratory report for those who are already familiar with the scientific study or field but haven’t performed the experiment yet.
Lab Report Samples
What to include in your lab report?
A lab report template usually follows a structured and straightforward procedure. Since each part of the report has its significance, you should spend enough time to write each part carefully. Laboratory reports have specific elements, which you must include:
The title should describe the experiment and show what you analyzed in your experiment.
This is the summary of your experiment and it should familiarize the readers with the research topic. As a rule, you would write the abstract last even though it’s at the beginning of your report. When writing the abstract, try answering these questions:
- Why did you conduct the experiment or research?
- What problem will you address?
- What results did you find?
- What do the results mean?
- Do you have a better understanding of the problem now?
You will use this part of the report to discuss the problem you’re studying and other theories relevant to understanding your findings. Also, you will state here the hypothesis of your experiment and your motivation for conducting the research.
Methods and Materials
In this section, you will provide your readers with an overview of the apparatus, equipment, or substances you used. You will also list the steps you took throughout the experiment. If you used any specific number of materials, make sure to list these details too. For the steps, you need to list these as you performed them during the experiment.
The results are the data you have found or collected from your experiment. Provide an explanation of how you collected this data. You can use charts, graphs, and other visual aids when presenting the data in this section.
This section is where you will analyze the results of your experiment along with providing a discussion of your data. You need to provide an analysis of the weaknesses and strengths of your experiment’s design, then compare your results with the results of similar experiments. Try to answer these questions while writing this section:
- What do your findings indicate?
- What is the significance of the results?
- Have you found any knowledge gaps?
- Have you raised any new questions?
This section will serve as the summation of your experiment. You need to clearly state what you learned from the experiment and its significance.
Don’t forget to cite all of the sources that helped support your claims or explain any background information. You should list these references in this section.
Lab Report Templates
How to write a lab report?
People involved in scientific experimentation or investigations should know how to write scientific reports. The main part of scientific investigations takes place in the lab and this may include connecting equipment, obtaining samples and supplies, repairing, checking the consistency of each apparatus, calibration, and data collection. You can do all of these things through experimentation. After conducting the experiment, you would then spend a lot of time presenting the results in an objective, concise, conclusive, and critical format.
This is the laboratory report. An organized report is more influential and effective compared to one without a structure. There aren’t any standard rules for writing a good report. But you should know that you may only get one chance to influence your readers.
A badly-written report will turn your reader off while a well-written one will have an impact on your credibility. It can give you better chances of promotion or employment. Your report can also catch the attention of the scientific community. Here are the steps to follow when writing this report:
- Think of the Title
Remember that the title of your report will draw the first impression from your readers. As such, you need to have an effective title that will communicate your topic or findings in specific terms. The title doesn’t have to be very thought-provoking or creative. The important thing is to make it informative.
- Write the introduction
The introduction will provide your readers with significant background information, explain the experiment, and what it will accomplish, and highlight its importance. This section should include a hypothesis and a purpose because you will go back to these in your conclusion when you evaluate your entire experiment.
A well-written introduction must cite all relevant sources like journal articles and more to provide accurate background information. When writing the introduction, you may consider using the funnel method. This involves starting with your topic’s broadest point of interest. From there, gradually narrow down the information to more specific details.
- List the methods and materials
When it comes to the methods, you should include the details of the steps you used to gather your data, then analyze it. You should provide enough details so that others can evaluate or follow your procedures. When writing this section, use the past tense. If there are situations where you must include a long list of materials or steps, it’s recommended to place them in a separate Appendices section. Just remember to refer to them in the text too.
You should also provide a description of your experimental design, materials, subjects, and procedures you used for collecting and analyzing the data. Then include a list of materials and equipment you used to collect data. Specify the names of the models of any specialized equipment you used. Include a detailed description of your experimental conditions and settings. If needed, add labeled images or diagrams of the exact set-up of the experimental equipment.
Then also add an explanation of how you controlled extraneous variables either through fixing or restricting them at a certain level. When describing your procedures, make sure to write the exact steps you took to collect data – and list these chronologically. You should also provide sufficient information so that anyone who wants to replicate your experiment can do so successfully. Be as concise as possible and add detailed information wherever appropriate.
When conducting an experiment in a lab, there is a high chance that you will follow a laboratory manual while gathering data. If you’re a student, your instructor might allow you to reference the manual, then state whether you modified any steps for practical considerations.
But there are instructors who might ask you to rewrite the procedures in the laboratory manual as complete sentences and coherent paragraphs while taking note of any changes you have made to the steps during your experiment. If you will perform extensive data analysis, make sure to state the analysis you have planned too. This may include the types of tests you will perform and any relevant software or programs you will use for calculations.
- Indicate the results and the discussion
In this section, you will include all of your results along with any relevant tables and figures with their proper labels. Your results should use the narrative found in the materials and methods section.
You should explain your results through your figures and tables without using too much text. Or if you will explain your results and discussions through words, you don’t have to add too many tables and figures. For example, in chemistry, you would write the results and discussions as a single section. But in biology, you would write them separately
It is in the discussion section where you will use theories to explain how you have achieved your results. Also, explain what those results might imply. Don’t forget to include any mistakes you have committed and how those mistakes may have influenced your data. Remember that discussion isn’t only about reporting results.
You also have to analyze them. This means the inclusion of shapes of graphs, discussion trends, implications of the data, comparisons to known theories or values, and any outliers. Also, a discussion about the accuracy of your results is essential. You should know exactly what your instructor will require for this section.
- Come up with the conclusion
The final section of your report is the conclusion. This section will contain a summary of your experiment’s findings along with a short overview of the weaknesses and strengths. Also, include any implications your study has for future research. There are some reports that don’t require a conclusion because it will overlap with the discussion. Before you add or omit this section, confirm with your instructor first.
- Write the abstract
The abstract will provide a comprehensive yet concise summary of your research project. The style you use in writing this should be short, but you don’t have to use note form. You can look through samples if you need guidance. The aim of the abstract is to briefly explain the following:
- Begin with a 1 to 2 sentence summary that provides the rationale and aim of your study.
- Describe the setting and participants.
- Describe the method, design, experimental treatment, questionnaires, surveys, tests, and more.
- Describe the main findings including any relevant statistics along with significance levels.
- The final sentences should outline your study’s contribution to the knowledge within the literature.
While you will place the abstract at the start of your report, you would write this part at the end since you will summarize the information from the other sections of your lab report.