The main aim of writing a laboratory report is to archive the work so that the work will not have to be done in the future.
What is a Lab Report?
Laboratory reports are done in order to describe and analyze an experiment conducted in a lab environment exploring a scientific hypothesis. They generally are done to conduct research; to formulate a hypothesis about a stimulus, event or behavior; to review literature related to the stated hypothesis; to allow someone else to copy the study by providing precise details of the study; to apply statistics to a hypothesis; to explore various theoretical summations; to evaluate research in a structured fashion; and to communicate the results in a concise fashion.
Lab Report Format
Abstract: The abstract presents a quick summary of the experiment to be conducted.
Introduction: The introduction of the report highlights the experiment to be conducted, its objectives, the importance of it, and the general background of the experiment in order to understand it.
Procedures: The procedures, sometimes referred to as methods, present the process of the experiment. Documenting such procedures allow others to replicate the work or for the person conducting the initial experiment to replicate it again.
Results and Discussion: This section is where the “heart and soul” of the lab report is presented and discussed. It is important in this section to not just analyze the results but to also identify the ramifications of the study/experiment.
Conclusions: A conclusion section is usually included in longer lab reports.
Generally, though, the conclusion will discuss the results contextually within the parameters of the entire experiment. In this section, the objectives identified in the Introduction are discussed and summarized to determine if the experiment succeeded, as well as to discuss the results if they were not predicted.
Appendices: An appendices section is usually included that identifies very detailed information used as the premise of the experiment that may be too long to include in the actual lab report.
Lab Report Outline Template
A good template contains a statement of the problem, the hypothesis, a list of material used in the experiment, identification of the procedure used in the experiment, the results, and the conclusions.
Check out our lab report template: Lab Report Template
Statement of Problem
This section identifies the question needing answering along with any initial observations or background data about the topic.
This part of the template includes a possible solution for the problem and it should be in a complete sentence. The researcher should also make sure the hypothesis is testable.
This section will include a list of all the items used in the lab experiment and any materials used as part of the procedure.
This section explains in a very succinct fashion what was done in the lab along with a detailed step-by-step process that anyone could repeat.
This section should encompass any data tables, observations made or additional notes made during the experiment.
This is where one would accept or reject the stated hypothesis, along with an explanation of why it was accepted or rejected. A summary of the data is often included here as well. The conclusion section also should list a primary result learned from the experiment and how it applies to a real-life situation. Last, the conclusion needs to identify any possible errors that may have occurred in the collection of the data used for the experiment.
Lab Report Outline Sample
A sample of a lab report would be one written to measure temperature and pressure on an ideal gas heated in a closed container.
In the introductory paragraph, the researcher discussed the relationship of temperature and pressure of an ideal gas that was heated in a closed container. Because the ideal gas was in a closed container, the volume of the gas remained constant. The researcher stated that the objective was to test whether the state of the gas remained constant.
The procedure related to the heating of the gas. The volume of the container was 1 liter. The researcher identified the heating process and the components used to heat the gas.
The results and discussion section of this particular experiment analyzed the results of the experiment. The experiment possessed no unusual events introducing an error. The section identified the results of the pressure measurements with reference to tables in the appendices section.
The conclusion section provided a summary about how the experiment succeeded in identifying that temperature and pressure did remain constant. It also identified the differences in temperature and pressure which were attributed to simply the experimental error. The appendix of this particular experiment’s lab report presented the data, calculations, and graphs from the experiment to verify the hypothesis.
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