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/
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)
nMaterials and Methods
nAround ten words
nReflect content of paper
nMay use keywords other researchers will recognize
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
– purpose of report or thesis
– date, place presented
– results and/or major conclusions
nDefines subject of report
nOutlines scientific purpose or objectives
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?
nWhat knowledge already exists about this subject?
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
–Focus shifts from experimenter or researcher to experiment itself
Materials and Methods
nWhat materials were used?
nHow were they used?
nStep-by-step procedure of experiment
Use of Past Tense in a Lab Report
nThe Procedures or Methods: Past Tense
–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.
nSummarizes data but does not discuss their implications
The Coke Cola erupted three feet in the air after five Mentos were dropped into the 2 liter bottle of the Coke.
nEmphasize interpretation of data
nSpeculation is appropriate if so identified.
nSuggestions for improvements of techniques or design
nMay explain logic that allows you to accept or reject your hypothesis.
nMay suggest future experiments.
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
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