Lab reports are a fundamental part of every lab unit or technical course. After several hours of mixing reagents, breathing in chemical fumes, wiring circuits or even demolishing a car or any other lab activities, that is only half the task.
There is a very high likelihood that the course professor or the lab supervisor will require you tender in a report for the activities you have been doing.
A lab report is similar to a project report. It contains the same sections and, in many parts, employs the very same structure.
A lab report contains several sections. These are outlined below.
Like all academic papers, the lab report must have a title. This is a heading that the professor or evaluator uses to identify what was being experimented on. A good title contains;
- The name experiment that you were conducting. It should be brief but explain what was being verified.
- Variables that were being put to test. If they are many, they can be put under the “several variables” bracket.
- Parameter(s) used, the expected results and the organism or item under discussion.
A sample title is like;
Effects of humidity on the growth of Staphylococcus bacteria.
Growth is the aspect being tested, the subject is the staphylococcus bacteria and humidity is the variable being changed and the observable change it causes.
This is the section where the student is required to specify in more detail, what the purpose and the intention of the experiment was. It should be approximately 250 words. This helps the reader quickly determine if the experiment is relevant to what they are looking for, especially if they are using the report as a point of reference.
The abstract should contain
- A brief statement that introduces the report.
- Main objectives of the lab session.
- Important points of the methodology used and the process employed.
- A brief summary of the main results that the lab yielded.
- The ultimate conclusion that was made of those results.
The abstract should be written in the past tense.
This section holds the reasons why the experiment was necessary. In order to efficiently do this, the introduction should contain a brief history of the subject at hand and some literature review related to the paper.
Prior experiments run about the same topic should also be highlighted. Here, sources have to be cited and documented wherever used.
By the end of the introduction, the reader should have a clear view of why the experiment is necessary.
- Materials and methods
This section answers the questions What did you do? and How did you do it? It should include complete details of the items used in the experiment. These are anything from glassware to lab silverware and even electronic and mechanical components if the activity in question was an engineering lab. An alteration in the methods and procedure to be used should also be noted.
The materials and methods section should be in the past tense and is conventionally written in the first person. However, check with your professor and the lab manual before writing in the first person.
This is usually the most sensitive part of the report. The results gotten determine the conclusions that will be drawn. Inaccurate results will inevitably result in incorrect conclusions.
During the experiment, you should record the results as you go through the motions. In this way, the results will be easy to write.
Getting accurate results can be pretty tasking. Mistakes occur, wrong chemicals can be used and wrong variables may be involuntarily altered. If all goes awry, you can contact the professional writers at Unemployed Professors and the diligent intellectuals will meticulously carry out the experiment and draft an apt report.
- Discussion, tables, figures and calculations
In this section, the results are discussed in depth. Conclusions are made and any figures or graphs used to compare findings of the lab should also be included for future reference. Calculations made on the raw data acquired should also be included in the report at this juncture. Tables, graphs and figures should be properly labeled.
When all is said and done, what remains is to cite and document the sources that were used in the experiment. This helps in advancing future experiments that may be derived from the findings of yours.