When you are a student majoring in a field of science, writing a lab report is a fact of life. Whether you are working on a chemistry lab report or one in biology or physics, it is important to document the process and discuss everything that you have observed. If done properly the lab report should act as a guide for anybody who wants to reproduce the same procedure that you have reported on. Note that depending on the preferences of your instructor, the requirements on how to do the report (such as whether it must be typed or if it can be written with a pen) will vary.
Chemistry Lab Report Writing
As you prepare to conduct an experiment is important that you understand the chemistry lab report lab manual well. This contains the requirements of the report based on your instructor’s expectations. Make sure you understand the procedures and why you are being asked to do it that way. Note that the procedures need to be followed as closely as possible in order to ensure uniformity. If something is not clear to you, make sure to ask your instructor before beginning the report since any misunderstandings or misinterpretations can have a major impact on the experiment.
Become familiar with the chemistry lab report format. How should the cover page be written? In most cases, you will want to include your name, the title of the experiment, the name of your instructor, and the date in which you completed the experiment. Does the instructor want citations and/or endnotes? Your lab report will need to follow academic formatting guidelines such as APA, MLA, Harvard or Chicago. Each includes its own criteria, so you will want to make sure you are formatting it properly. Also be aware that lab reports are unique from other written assignments (such as argumentative essay) in that you will only report the facts and not include any personal commentary.
Hypothesize. What assumptions are you making? What do you expect to learn? By making a hypothesis, you are making a guess about what the end results of your experiment will be. However, you are not just making the guess blindly; you are basing it on information that you have gained during the course and therefore using some intuition. The hypothesis, of course, the entire point of conducting a scientific experiment. It is important to note that the point of the lab is not to prove that you are right, but instead to determine whether or not it has merit. The results could end up being completely different from what you had expected, which is perfectly fine. The key is to explain why (which you will in the results and discussion section).
Include the Chemical Reaction Equation. This is usually found in your class lab manual and breaks down all of the reactants and products that will be used in the experiment. Also make sure to record the temperature and the solvent.
Conduct the Experiment. As you are conducting the chemistry lab practical, make sure to make a note of every step. Do not simply write the chem lab report by copying the lab manual. Instead, you want to provide specific detail about what took place during your experiment, including the results. Make sure to use the proper formal chemistry lab report.
Write the Results and Discussion Section. Here you will analyze the results of the experiment and discuss whether they were consistent with your expectations. If they were not, what might have been the reasons? In what ways did the results support your hypothesis (if they did at all). What were the limitations that might have affected the results?
Write a Conclusion. Summarize your experiment including the takeaways. Also discuss what future experiments might help make the picture more clear.
Create an abstract. The abstract provides a detailed summary of your report, highlighting all of the important points and explaining the results. Unlike a review of a book or movie, it is not intended to merely tease the reader by providing hints; you tell explicitly describe your work. This section should be no more than 200 words long.
Physics Lab Report
In this section, we will discuss how to write a physics lab report.
Write the Abstract. While this section will be included at the beginning of the paper, it will actually be the last part that you write since you obviously must conduct the experiment before you can know what happened. Provide a summary of you physics laboratory report, including its purpose, the methodology and the results. Since abstracts are intended to be brief, you merely need to list the methods and not provide justification, as that will be done in the full paper itself. Also include any measurements and data.
In every physics lab report format, you will include an introduction section that provides theoretical background about your experiment as well as your motivation. This will allow the reader to know why the experiment is important and why it will contribute to the field of study. There are two main questions to address in the introduction. First, why are you conducting this experiment? Be careful not to be too literal in your answer. While it could be true that you are conducting the experiment because it is a requirement for your course, you need to imagine that you are a scientist who is seeking to discover something and make a contribution to your field of research. The second question is, what do you expect the results to be? Again, this will be based on your own intuition. Once you come upon the results, you will be able to justify why your hypothesis was correct or explain why it was rejected.
If the experiment is intended to test a particular physical theory that was introduced during the class, write a description of this theory and what you predict will happen. Given the challenges of writing the introduction, you might want to wait until the end of the experiment to write it, since you might end up incorporating additional concepts that you had not initially considered.
Describe how you went about your experiment (illustrations will most likely be required) along with the chosen methods. Do not merely rewrite the instructions from the lab manual and do not make the assumption that the reader has even read the manual.
Begin by describing the apparatus and then refer to its individual parts. Again, you cannot assume that the reader attended the class and understands the apparatus in full context, so you will need to provide full detail.
Leave out the trivial details that has no impact on the experiment, such as where a particular switch is, or a narration on how you positioned your line of vision in order to align everything properly. You also do not need to mention that you made the chart and printed it out. Instead, just refer them to the chart. It is also not necessary to note that the chart was created using Microsoft Excel, although when discussing the data it would be important to note which software applications you used.
You should discuss how you measured the data and especially how they may have placed limitations on your experiment in the form of errors. This is important for several reasons. First, you want your experiment to be transparent, which means conceding particular limitations so that future experiments can improve upon them. For instance, through no fault of your own, the measurement tools that you use might not be as accurate as you would like, but a lack of funding or time means you have no alternatives. In the results section you will discuss these potential issues in more detail.
Present the data and formulas. You should list the numerical data in a table and graphical data as figures. The raw data can be placed in an appendix after the report. Also make sure to include your calculations and solutions. Percentage differences and errors should also be noted.
Discussion and Conclusions. In this final section of the physics lab report template, you will inform the reader what the results actually mean and whether they align with your hypothesis. You should also make note of the broader implications of your findings as it relates to physics and make suggestions for future experiments based on your conclusions.
Now that you have a better idea about how to write a physics lab report, you should be in a good position!
How to Write a Biology Lab Report
Finally, this article will discuss how to write a biology lab report, including the biology lab report template.
The biology lab report format always starts with a good title. Make sure to keep it short but informative; approximately ten words. It should be straight to the point, letting the reader know precisely what the experiment was about. You can generally omit articles such as “the” and “a” from the title, as you would with a newspaper title. The title page should also include your name as well as any classmates/lab partners who contributed to the experiment. Depending on the formatting, you may be asked to include the name of the professor and academic institution. Finally, include the date in which you completed the experiment.
Next, write an introduction in which you discuss the problem and how you intend to test it. It is important that the introduction explain why the experiment is relevant and, in particular, your motivation for choosing it. You should also include a hypothesis based on an informed opinion about what you think you will find. As has been noted, the hypothesis is not intended to be evidence that you are all knowing. In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to ultimately reject the hypothesis since you will have learned new information that explained why your assumptions were incorrect.
When providing background, discuss the issue from a historical or theoretical context. You will often be asked to include articles and academic sources that are closely linked to your study. This comes in the form of a literature review and involves reputable sources that have been peer-reviewed and published. List any equipment and materials that you utilized for the experiment and the procedures that you followed. These materials should be described in full detail including the quantities used, the amount of time that passed (for instance, if you need time for the results of a chemical to take effect when testing it on a type of bacteria), and the measurements that you used. As with the other types of lab reports, the details contained in your lab practical in biology should provide scientists with all the information necessary to conduct the same experiment (and hopefully duplicate the results). You should take into account factors and conditions that may affect the results of experiment. For instance, if you conducted an experiment outside on a particularly warm day, this should be noted since a researcher who attempts it on a cooler day might end up with different results. You should also explain the process in which you collected your specimens since any deviation could lead to different outcomes. Although information written in instruction manuals is done using present tense, you will use past tense for your AP biology lab report since you are providing an account of your work and not giving instructions per se. You will eventually explain the results and conclusions, but only later in the report.
Describe your results. This should be based on the actual evidence such as whatever data was obtained from the experiment. You should discuss the results in the text and then include illustrations, charts and tables to provide the reader with easy to understand visuals. Of course, make sure to describe what the tables and graphs mean, such as what the X and Y axes indication since you cannot assume that the reader knows how to interpret the information.
Discuss any limitations, weaknesses and errors in your experiment. Offer reasons for why these errors occurred (i.e., small sample size), and how they could be corrected in future experiments (i.e., by being given more time to conduct the experiment, or more funding). You should not make assumptions about errors on a hunch. Rather, they need to be backed up by your data. For instance, if it is clear that the cold weather had an affect on the outcome of the experiment, by all means mention this. But if you have no evidence that the weather altered the results, leave these assumptions out.
Present your conclusion. This is where you discuss the broader implications of accepting or rejecting you hypothesis. You should also offer suggestions for future research based on your findings. The big takeaway is that when it comes to science, it is impossible that everything will ever be fully discovered. Instead, experiments serve the purpose of building upon previous research, looking at things from a different perspective, and advancing discovering and make new breakthrough. Now that you know how to write a lab report for biology, you are ready to make an impact!