How to Write a Lab Report
You have carried out a study successfully, your instructor has now requested you to write a report on the same, and you don’t know what to do about it. Lab reports vary depending on the level of study, as well as specific advice from the tutor. Some instructors may prescribe unique formats to be adhered to in the preparation of the report and may even provide you with a template or guidance. Due to the variations in the format, you are likely to come across different approaches in writing. If the instructor does not specify the need for some particular part, then you do not need to include it. Now you may be wondering, where do you begin and how do you get all that done?
Arrange to get Started ASAP
A lab report is the kind of task that you will need to start working on at the earliest opportunity. Try as much as possible to fight off the temptation to postpone. It is due to the fact that it is common to have several revisions based on the instructor’s feedback that may take up quite a considerable amount of time. The more you wait, the higher the chances of you forgetting a substantial proportion of the details from the study or experiment. The report is characterized by many small but essential details that require adequate time as well as attention to detail to pull through without leaving out crucial details. If you develop a plan in advance with timelines for the handling of various sections of the report, it can help you manage the task with little stress without having to compromise some parts that can cause you to end up with poor-quality work, which may cost you important marks.
The title tells the reader what to expect from this work. It needs to be precise when providing an explanation of the main idea behind the study. Consider starting the title with a keyword instead of an article such as ‘a,’ ‘an,’ or ‘the.’
Even though this is the opening part of your piece, you handle it last after you are done with the rest of the work. It provides a synopsis of the report. Even though it is brief, it should highlight essential points. You can make it roughly 150 words. The abstract is one of the most visible parts of the report and will, as such, need your undivided attention as it is likely to attract the greatest attention from your instructor. It should have a good flow that enables one to go through it without much trouble.
This chapter’s aim is to provide the context of the problem. In some instances, this section may provide the purpose of the study itself. The reader should be in a position to tell the kind of issue you are attempting to solve. It states the problem of the report succinctly. Talk about why the problem is worth solving. The introduction may also act as the background to the report and can talk about past or related work on the issue, especially if attempts in the past to resolve it were unsuccessful. You will need to come up with the hypothesis in a single sentence.
Methods and Materials Section
In this section, give information on the instruments as well as the explanation of the methods. Be careful not to put out too much data that may overwhelm the reader. Consider incorporating a diagram of the equipment where you find it necessary to provide a description of specialty equipment and an explanation on how it is used. Include a short paragraph providing a description of the equipment, the methods and strategies that you will be employing for the experiment. You will need to include the theoretical elements in both derived and natural forms.
Provide a description of the steps you followed during the experiment. The steps constitute your procedure. Be sure to include adequate details to enable anyone to go through this section and conduct a similar investigation. The write-up should appear like you are providing direction to another person to carry out the same steps. Make the assumption that the reader is not aware of whatever you did. Your writing should be in the past tense. Do not attempt to explain the logic behind this method. All you have to do is to report the exact things you did. Consider including diagrams or illustrations to showcase the steps of work.
Here you should provide a report on the recorded results. It will vary depending on the type of experiment you have carried out, implementation, goals, etc. You should lay out all the data you got during the work. The data is usually presented in the form of a table. It entails your recordings during the investigation. It merely encompasses the facts and does not include any interpretation that you may have regarding their meaning.
Avoid discussing opinions or making comments that are not objective. Use tables and figures for proper organization of your data to enhance clarity. Make sure to properly label the rows and columns of all tables as well as graphs’ axes. Titling of the table and figures needs to be descriptive, number according to the sequence, and incorporate a descriptive legend for the abbreviations and symbols among others.
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Provide a description of the meaning of the data. This section will cater specifically to major points concerning the data results. Objectivity is also crucial in this section. Irrespective of the degree to which your results have confirmed your hypothesis, this section has to maintain the highest possible level of objectivity. You can consider some of the points below to help you understand if the data and its objective are clear to the reader:
- The performance metrics and the reason for them
- The cases of comparison
- The parameters of the study
- Aspects of your algorithm that are attempting to evaluate
Not always this chapter is required as it can often be combined with the previous one. Here, you should have calculations that are based on the numbers, provide an interpretation of the data, and a determination of whether the hypothesis was proven or refuted. You will need to give a logical connection of your results to theory. Discuss potential mistakes that you may have made when carrying out the experiment. Consider also discussing how the study could have been improved by suggesting any improvements to the equipment or method that you may have realized during the experiment. Any expected predictions provided should be clearly depicted as being so. Be sure to suggest potential experiments in the future that can enable clarification of your results.
Look into any other potential weaknesses in your discussion. Avoid the temptation to provide a vague picture of the weaknesses, as this may adversely affect your credibility. Addressing the weaknesses explicitly helps in the development of trust between you and the reader helping enhancer professional respect for either party by the other.
This part (that might take only one paragraph) summarizes the things covered in the body of the lab report. It briefly highlights the events in the experiment, whether there was an acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis, and the implication of this. Even though the conclusion is merely a summary, it is one of the most visible sections as it draws the attention of the reader. This goes on to show the kind of weight that you need to attach to your conclusion. In the conclusion, you are expected to state the key findings of your investigation precisely. Strive to show how readers have gained from your work or how it fits into the bigger context.
In this part, you will list all the sources that were used in preparing your report. It is better to include only the sources you have cited in the report. Your list should be presented in alphabetical order based on the surnames of the authors. The arrangement of the rest of the information within each entry in the list will depend on the type of source.
If you struggle with creating your lab report, you can always turn to a professional team of experts who can assist you in writing or editing your work. Good luck!