Experimental sciences rely on laboratory experiments as their primary means of testing the theoretical principles and concepts learned in the lecture part of the course. For college students, the laboratory is an indispensable part of their learning experience because it facilitates them in discovering and substantiating content taught in lectures, consolidating their comprehension through experimentation. Your instructors will require you to write a lab report to communicate your findings with scientific community members. However, many students don’t know the format to use, let alone the primary goals and objectives of writing a lab report. Worry no more if you are in such a predicament, for this post provides a succinct overview of the main purpose of a lab report and the format to use when writing one.
Analyzing the Primary Purpose of Writing a Lab Report
The main purpose of a lab report entails documenting the processes, methods, and results of a scientific report or study for interested parties to have an idea of what is happening and its implications. Ideally, it is a form of record-keeping that members of the scientific community use to avoid future mistakes or solve certain problems. Anyone interested in the study and its findings could also learn about it from a lab report. Therefore, the primary purpose of writing a lab report is to communicate the study’s processes and outcomes in an objective, evidence-based, methodological, and organized manner.
Format for Lab Report Writing
To become an excellent lab report writer, you must thoroughly understand its major components and parts. Its format resembles a journal article, which mirrors the scientific approach, and comprises four primary sections: Introduction, Methodology, Findings, and Discussion. They also include a well-crafted title, an abstract, a conclusion, a references section, and appendices. While lab report handouts are available to help guide you through the process, improving your lab report writing skills depends on how well you master each of the sections, as will be described below:
1. Title page
You cannot submit a lab report without a title page. As with writing college essays and research papers, lab reports must have a title page containing a proper, relevant report title, your name as the author or writer, and the submission date. Other details, such as the name of the course and instructor, can be included depending on the specifics of the lab report prompt. Ideally, this page is for identification purposes and should never be missed in your report.
The abstract is the second section of your lab report and can range from one to a few paragraphs, depending on the report’s length. In most cases, however, it should not exceed half a page. Fundamentally, it is a section that allows you to summarize the findings of your experimental processes and provide the main conclusions for those who might not be able to read through the entire report. Endeavor to be quantitative, as this will clarify what to expect. Since it summarizes the entire report, you should write it after completing all the other sections. At this point, you might get a little confused about differentiating between an abstract and conclusion. In such a way, you can contact a custom lab report writing service to understand the discrepancy.
After writing the abstract, you can now introduce your report. In this section, focus on the theoretical concepts and ideas underlying the experimental processes and findings you intend to discuss. Also, identify the problem the scientific experiment seeks to address and its significance to relevant stakeholders. The simplest way to approach this section is, to begin with a broad topic and narrow it down to a research question the report will aim to answer. Overall, this section provides the reader with background information supporting the need for scientific experimentation.
It’s the section where you describe the experimental procedures you conducted. While you should avoid repeating the information provided in the lab manual, referencing it when writing the report is acceptable. Endeavor to provide process details if the lab manual’s information is insufficient or if you made any changes to it. Key elements to include in this section include the experiment subjects, if any, and the procedures and materials used to collect and analyze data.
In this section, you describe the results of your experimental procedures. Remember to report all the findings obtained, even if they are inconsistent with the theoretical principles and concepts described in the introduction. Including tables, sample calculations, and graphs is critical to improving your lab report quality. You should also mention any computer software or program used in the experiment. Moreover, you must number and title all tables and present graphs as figures with numbers and a brief legend.
This part presents an analysis of your final findings from the experiment. In this section, you must demonstrate the correlation between your results and the theoretical concepts from the available literature. You can also discuss any inconsistencies identified during the experimental processes. Moreover, you could compare your findings with those from other studies utilizing different methods. Overall, this section allows you to justify the results you obtained.
It’s the final section of a well-written lab report. It allows you to provide a brief summary of your study’s data collection methods and analysis of the findings. You must also identify some of the limitations encountered and strengths that promoted the success of the process. Suppose you’ve other assignments but need to perfect your lab writing skills, you can take advantage of professional guidance from online writing companies to learn.
8. Reference and appendices
References are an indispensable aspect of any successful writing project. College students must cite the information and resources they use to support their claims and arguments. If you want to write a lab report that could be published in a scientific journal, providing relevant, scholarly references for your work is mandatory. In the appendices, you include any of the figures, tables, and procedures mentioned in the body of the report.
In retrospect, writing a lab report is inevitable if you are taking a STEM course in college. As discussed above, it must contain all eight sections to be informative. However, depending on the instructions provided, you could structure the report appropriately, including or excluding some sections. In most reports, you may need to include a section on the research aims immediately after the introduction. As with any academic writing assignment, adhere to all instructions, and you will deliver a high-quality and informative lab report.