How To Write A Lab Report
The laboratory report is an effective means of conveying information to others. Since science
reporting requires communication of experiments, it is necessary that a reporting procedure
be established and used. In writing the report you must be neat and precise and to the point
without wasting time on unnecessary information. When you are preparing your report it
must conform to the organization given below.
The purpose of any communication is to communicate. The purpose of a scientific paper is to
introduce a topic to the reader, explain how an experiment was performed, describe the
results and discuss the significance of the findings. Unlike a textbook or magazine article, a
scientific paper is separated into specific sections. This is a very stylized form of writing with
a lot of rules. Your adherence to this format will indicate the care with which you prepared
your report and determine to a large extent your grade on your paper.
Your paper must be typed with 12 point type, double spaced with one inch margins on the
top, bottom, left and right. Diagrams must be drawn by you in pen or by computer and
properly cited (under the picture) if they are not your own. Important Note: Your paper must
be entirely your own work unless specifically stated (using citations).
1) Use only the front of page and/or graph paper.
2) Label each section. This label should be in all capital letters, underlined, and followed
3) Skip a minimum of 2 lines between each section.
4) Include all necessary units. Try to eliminate all spelling and grammatical errors.
5) Rubric must be turned in with Lab report
The specific section of a scientific paper in order:
Materials and methods
Bibliography (Literature Cited)
Each section is identified by these specific words (except for the title; the position on front
page makes it obvious). Scientific papers are written in a clear but concise manner using the
more formal grammar (try eliminating the I’s and we’s). Since you will be “Submitting” your
paper, you will use the following format with no variation:
The title is an incomplete sentence that describes the major aspects of the research.
Centered on first page give title of report followed on second line by your name (centered)
followed on the third line with the date(s) the lab was performed. The title should be short
and descriptive and convey the nature of the experiment. It should include the dependent
and independent variables (if applicable).
Poor example: “MY BIOLOGY LABORATORY REPORT” This obviously tells the prospective
Good example: “FACTORS INFLUENCING THE ACTIVITY OF ALKALINE
An individual skimming through a journal first reads the title of each paper and if interested
in alkaline phosphatase, he/she would continue to read the paper. It is the author’s
responsibility to include all of the significant words but not make the title so long that it
reads like the next section.
This section contains one paragraph. This paragraph summarizes the objectives of the
experiment, procedure and gives the numerical results found in the experiment. Do not
include any conclusions or new information in this section. The abstract should be
completed after all others parts of the write-up are finished.
When the reader continues beyond the title, he/she finds a very brief summary of the paper.
This may interest the individual enough to continue reading the paper, or may provide the
reader with as much information as he/she wants to know. Therefore the, abstract is the
next most important part of a publication. The abstract is a paragraph, not a sentence, that
includes an introductory statement, what was done and what the results were. Be sure to
state specific results.
Poor example: “The enzyme had a pH optimum.” Tells nothing!
Good example: “The enzyme had a pH optimum of 8.0 and a temperature optimum of 50
This section includes the background information and hypothesis
The introduction acquaints the reader with the ideas that lead to the investigation. This
includes any background knowledge relative to the study and cities individual scientists or
Poor example: “A lot of people have known a lot about enzymes for a long time.”
Good example: “The rate of an enzyme- catalyzed reaction is influenced by factors that
modify the three-dimensional shape of the protein, such as pH and temperature (Campbell,
1990). Other factors such as the effect of increased enzyme may affect the shape of the
protein. (Vilee et al., 1989)
In your paper use the “author- date” format for documentation as illustrated above.
The date is the year of publication. For one the individual last name is used; for more than
one, the first author’s last name is followed by “et al” (Latin for et alii, and others)
Do not copy portions of a reference word for word. Claiming someone else’s idea as
your own is a breach of academic. PLAGIARISM IS UNACCEPTABLE
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This section of your paper includes the materials and equipments, safety precautions and
Materials and equipment: Using a comma separated listing, give the major equipment and
SAFETY RULES: Using a bulleted list, give the special safety rules applicable to this lab.
PROCEDURE: Using outline format give the steps required to complete the lab. Be concise.
Be sure to include every step, no matter how insignificant you believe that step may have
DATA: The data section is usually presented in tables. Use proper heading and include
CALCULATIONS: This section contains sample calculations of all types performed. All
formulas must be shown with data and units substituted in the proper place. (if applicable)
Using a bulleted list, this is a listing of the numerical findings after doing the calculations.
Graphs may be included here.
Using paragraphs, these are brief statements about the results found during the experiment.
Each conclusion should be supported by listing the reasons used to reach that conclusion.
1) What generalizations can you draw from your results?
2) What application value might your data have?
3) If applicable, state final relationship between dependent and independent variables.
Beginning with paragraphs discuss the knowledge gained by doing the lab. Include the
1) Give any differences between what your predicted you might find and what you actually
found. Hypothesis accepted or not
2) Include any observations made during the experiment.
3) Discuss how you could have reduced error or uncertainty in the design/conduction of the
experiment. Error analysis
4) Any questions you have about the lab should be introduced here.
5) All questions given in the lab guide should be answered at the end of the discussion
section (number your answers, each on a separate line.)