How to prepare a lab report

Order Details;

Information taken from:

Joe Landsberger, Study Guides & Strategies, 2006 www.studygs.net/labreports.htm

Warren D. Dolphin, Writing Lab Reports and Scientific Papers. Iowa State University, 1997 www.mhhe.com/biosci/genbio/maderinquiry/

writing.html

What Lab Reports Do

Persuade:  Invite others to accept or reject your hypothesis

Detail data, procedures, outcomes for future researchers

May become part of accepted body of scientific knowledge unless disapproved (Landsberger, 2006)

Format

nTitle

nAbstract

nIntroduction

nMaterials and Methods

nResults

nDiscussion

nReferences

Title

nAround ten words

n

nStraightforward

n

nReflect content of paper

n

nMay use keywords other researchers will recognize

Abstract

nAllows reader to determine whether it would serve his or her purpose to read report

nPresented first in the lab report, written last

nConcise – 100 to 200 words or 3-5 sentence paragraph

nMay be a direct restatement of other material in the lab

nSummary of:

– purpose of report or thesis

– date, place presented

– results and/or  major conclusions

Introduction

nDefines subject of report

n

nOutlines scientific purpose or objectives

n

nProvides reader sufficient background to understand rest of report

nMay be a direct restatement of material in the Abstract

Questions Intro May Answer

nWhy was the study performed?

n

nWhat knowledge already exists about this subject?

–Literature search

n

nWhat is specific purpose of study?

–Scientific hypothesis – increasing exercise will lower blood pressure

–Experimental design – alternative fuel car

Use of “Person” in a Lab Report

nAs a rule, neither first person nor second person is used in a lab report.

–First person: I, we

–Second person: you

nThird person is used because it assumes

–Objectivity

–Focus shifts from experimenter or researcher to experiment itself

Materials and Methods

nWhat materials were used?

n

nHow were they used?

n

nStep-by-step procedure of experiment

Use of Past Tense in a Lab Report

nThe Procedures or Methods: Past Tense

nWhy?

–Indicate lab or experiment has been conducted

nExample: past tense

–The experiment was conducted on Friday, July 9, 2009, at 11:51 a.m.

–Step 3:  The ink was dropped on the slide, and the results were recorded.

–The model was constructed by a team of three researchers, and the prototype was presented on September 14, 2009, at MIT.

Results

nSummarizes data but does not discuss their implications

n

Example:

The Coke Cola erupted three feet in the air after five Mentos were dropped into the 2 liter bottle of the Coke.

Discussion

nEmphasize interpretation of data

n

nSpeculation is appropriate if so identified.

n

nSuggestions for improvements of techniques or design

n

nMay explain logic that allows you to accept or reject your hypothesis.

n

nMay suggest future experiments.

Data

nTables

nFigures

nGraphs

nPhotos

Figures and Tables

nMust have descriptive title

nTables labeled above, figures below

nShould include a legend explaining any symbols, abbreviations, or special methods

nShould be numbered separately

nShould be referred to in the text

–E.g., (fig.1)

Literature Cited

nLists sources (books, articles) for your report

nAlphabetized by author or first word in the source.

A parenthetical citation must be included in the paper for every source listed