The Biology laboratory report checklist
A great experiment is worthless if you are unable to communicate the findings to others. The scientific community has established
fairly uniform guidelines for summarizing your experiment and results as outlined below.
You may use the notes and data gathered while working previously with a partner. Invariably, some sections such as the
hypothesis and data will be quite similar or even identical to your partner’s report. The majority of the report, especially the
discussion section, MUST be the author’s own work. Partners may not copy reports from each other.
1. Title—check that your title contains the following features:
Gives a clear indication of what the study was about.
Includes the species name and the common name of the organism studied, if appropriate.
2. Introduction—check that your introduction contains the following features:
Gives the reader a clear idea of why the study was carried out and what it aimed to investigate (i.e.
Clearly identifies the specific question (hypothesis) being investigated, including the independent and
Provides a logical rationale for why the hypothesis is a reasonable one.
Provides relevant background information for the study as a whole.
Explains specialized terminology (new or unusual vocabulary particular to the investigation) where
3. Materials and methods (procedure)— check that this section contains the following features:
Written in the past tense as a report of what was done, not as a set of instructions.
The design of the experiment is complete and clear.
The reason for each step is obvious or explained.
All factors likely to have influenced the outcome of the experiment are mentioned or explained as
necessary (i.e. evidence of controls and constants in the design).
Specifically describes the method of data collection and any calculations or statistics performed.
4. Results— check that this section contains the following features:
Written in past tense.
Clearly presents a summary of the data in words, referencing any tables or graphs included.
Each table and graph includes a descriptive title, units of measurements and explanations of numbers used
if needed. The results should be evident without referencing the rest of the report.
The significance or validity of the results is NOT discussed in this section.
5. Discussion— check that this section contains the following features:
The section begins with a conclusion statement that refers to the hypothesis outlined in the introduction.
Facts are clearly distinguished from inference, speculation or opinion.
Unusual or unexpected findings are discussed logically, with attempted explanations based on the science
All statements are supported with references to data or an example.
There is discussion of the validity of the current study, citing specific examples from the experiment that
increased or decreased your confidence in your results.
There is discussion of specific ways in which the current experiment could be modified or improved and
additional questions that could be posed. All points raised must be explained (i.e. what is the specific
benefit of the suggested change/improvement).
General—Check that the overall paper conforms to the following guidelines:
Report is written in the third person (no “I” or “we” references)
Typed reports are double-spaced, printed on one side of paper only.
Reports are proofread for grammar and spelling (realize that “spell-check” does not recognize many
correctly spelled science terms).