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As much fun conducting science experiments are, writing lab reports afterwards are equally painful. The effort and time to write a lab report can double if you do not know how to write a lab report. Most students find the task boring because they do not know the structure of the task and end up writing one haphazardly. But you should never underestimate the importance of a good lab report if you want to score those extra points.
Generally, a lab report must include the following:
Now, this may seem a little too confusing and overwhelming for you. To make things easier for you, we have chalked out a step-by-step guide that will help you learn how to write a good lab report with minimal effort. Here you go!
While this may seem unnecessary, it is an essential step for those of you who do not know how to write a lab report at all. The readers of your lab report will most often be your teachers, advisors, and the evaluation committee. If that holds true for your lab report, then you must use a formal tone to write the report.
If you are writing a lab report as a part of your research paper, you need to consider other users, like peers, juniors and other researchers. In that case, you must include definitions and explain the technical jargon you have used in your paper.
Outlining can help you plan the entire process and make sure that your lab report has all the essentials. Start by listing the necessary sections on paper, leaving space for each segment as you do it. Under each section, jot down what you must cover in that section.
To ensure that you are not missing out any section, check the course syllabus or the lab report handout to verify the headings required. If you feel that you need to explain technical aspects in your paper, create subsections to organise the report.
Since these two items will receive the most attention, you cannot afford to write a bland title and an incomprehensible abstract. Make sure to use a title that reflects the essence of the experiment. The title should make your report eye-catching.
Keep the abstract concise, limiting it to not more than 200 words written in two paragraphs. Within these 200 words, make sure that you touch upon the following points:
Like every academic paper, a lab report should also start with an introduction that mentions the setting of the problem or the background. You must also mention the importance of exploring the problem and a statement of past work related to the issue.
Since the introduction of your report sets the stage for your experiment, mention the points you aim to discuss in your report's body. Also, include substantiation details in your intro so that your experiment's intricacies are evident to every reader. If you want to communicate vital background information early in the paper, you can create a sub-section in the introduction to include such data.
For those who do not know how to write a lab report, you must remember that the body paragraphs should not be chunky. Instead, the body should comprise of several sections so that readers do not find the information overwhelming.
Start by mentioning the equipment or theory you have used. You can describe the equipment in a short paragraph using a diagram of the apparatus. For theoretical elements, make sure to include both natural as well as the derived forms. Additionally, you must also include the strategies and methodologies that you have used for the experiment.
If you have conducted an experiment that has been conducted in the past, you must interpret the differences of past research with your experiment. The same rule applies if you are expanding upon past research or applying a new approach to it.
If the related work literature is large in quantity, include it at the beginning of your report to point out the differences. You can compare your lab experiment with the existing ones in terms of functionality, approach and performance. If the relevant body of work or experiment is substantially different from your work or experimentation, you can mention it at the end of the lab report.
Watching an experiment certainly isn’t the same as reading text about the experiment. To bridge this gap and make your lab report less bland and more visually digestible, you can juxtapose graphics between your work. This will help you illustrate what is being done and how it is being done to the readers.
Now, using images and diagrams in your lab report can be a tricky affair. The main thing to remember in this case would be to label the diagrams properly. In the case of tables and charts, make sure that the values used to draw the graph are similar to those used in the experiment.
Before you learn how to write a lab report’s results section, keep in mind that the results of an experiment are subject to change as per the goals, implementation, etc. To make sure you write a comprehensive and unbiased section, mention all the data procured from the experiment and let the reader form subjective comments or opinions.
You can use figures and tables to organise your data succinctly. While at it, make sure to title all the figures and tables descriptively and number them in the right sequence. Also, do not forget to describe the symbols and abbreviations you have used.
If your experiment has yielded abundant results, then include a summary of the crucial data in a separate sub-section at the end of the results section. This will help your readers remembering the information better. Also, make it a point to define the purpose of the data impartially and clearly.
The results section should be objective, even when the derived data has proved your hypothesis right. To make the intent of your data clear to your readers, make sure to elucidate the system's aspects that you are trying to evaluate. Define the cases of comparison as well as the performance metrics. Lastly, explain the parameters of the experimental setup under study.
In this section, you will have to connect your results to the existing theory logically. You must also include improvements in the technique that you have witnessed throughout the experiment. Mention the predictions regarding future experiments that can clarify the results further.
Also, remember that glossing over the weak points of your lab experiment can taint your credibility. So, address the weaknesses of the experiment and the results in the discussion section explicitly. This will get the readers to trust you and develop professional respect for your work.
Finally, list all the sources you have used in the lab report even if you have created a separate bibliography. This list of cited literature should only include references that appear in your written report. You should alphabetise this list by author's last name, and then format the remaining information according to the source requirements.
That brings us to the end of the entire process of writing a lab report. Bookmark this guide and follow it to the T if you do not know how to write a lab report. Make sure to tick all the essential sections to submit a report that is concise yet explanatory.
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