HOW TO WRITE A LAB REPORT VISIT CLASS WEBSITE UNDER RESOURCES FOR LAB REPORT TEMPLATE WHY learn how to write a lab report? In addition to being a scientific fundamental, lab reports use a style of writing known as TECHNICAL WRITING. Technical writing is different from what you have experienced in your language arts class. It is factual and to the point. Sentences should be packed with as much information possible while keeping the length short. Technical writing is used in many career fields including business, computers, and mechanics. Format: Must be typed. Title each section (abstract, introduction, etc) Header of page should have Title of Report, Last name and Page #. No header on title page. 1 inch margins Indent your entire paragraph by 1 in from margin (leave heading for each section toward margin) 1.5 spaced lines Use normal 12 pt. Time New Roman font face Secrets to a good lab report: Be clear and concise. Use past tense Support statements with data from your experiment. DO NOT state anything that is purely opinion or make any statement with out EVIDENCE. It is OKAY to be repetitive. Readers of scientific reports most often read only sections, not the entire paper. Thus reports can include the same information in different sections as long as its relevant. DO NOT USE FIRST PERSON! “I” or “we” is not used in technical writing. This can be very difficult at times. Instead of “We conducted an experiment showing…” you can use “The experiment showed…” Instead of “I predicted…” you can use “It was predicted…” PART 1: Title page Include a clear and descriptive title without being long winded. For Example: “Milk Lab” is not a descriptive title. “The Effects of Food Coloring and Detergent in Various Concentrations of Milk” is a better way of describing what can be found in your report. INCLUDES IN ORDER: Your name, Period, Date submitted, Date experiment was performed, names of others in your group (if applicable), and teacher’s name. On the bottom of the page will be the abstract. PART 2: Abstract (100-200 words, can be 1-2 brief paragraphs) The abstract is a clear, concise, and complete summary of the project, including the purpose, methodology, results, and major conclusions. HOWEVER IS WRITTEN IN THE FEWEST AMOUNT OF WORDS POSSIBLE! Although the abstract is the first section that the audience reads, it is usually the last section that the author writes. The abstract should be on the title page. The abstract will repeat information provided in the report. The abstract is not an introductory section of the report, but must be able to stand alone. Some people may read it and continue on with the report; others may never read the rest of the report. Your job is to entice the reader using the least amount of words as possible for them to continue reading the report. KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET! PART 3: Introduction (2-3 paragraphs) The report introduction will have some elements that resemble the abstract, but it must include other information as well. Don’t worry about being repetitive or redundant following the abstract; repetition here is alright because the abstract is not a replacement for the introduction. Nor is the introduction supposed to flow from the abstract – they are distinct entities within the report and should not be connected. Introduce the experiment AND what will be found in your report States purpose of experiment Give background information on the topic to orient the reader. For example: if I was writing a report on the milk lab, I would briefly discuss the consistency of the milk products and the properties of the food coloring and detergent. Provide a roadmap (overview, preview) of what information is provided subsequently in the individual report sections. PART 4: Materials (length varies) List everything needed to complete your experiment. Can be bulleted or in paragraph form. PART 5: Methods (2-3 paragraphs) Describe the steps you completed during your investigation. This is basically your procedure however written out in paragraph style. Be sufficiently detailed so that ANYONE COULD READ THIS SECTION AND DUPLICATE YOUR EXPERIMENT. Again, you should not be writing in first person. Possible beginning of paragraph – “The experiment was conducted as follows: After gathering required materials, 20 ml of each mystery solution were poured into the labeled Petri dishes …” PART 6: Data (length varies) - Reports (not discusses) hard data found in your experiment - Includes tables of numerical data (no graphs yet) - Just the facts, no interpretations - Should have a section for qualitative (observational) and quantitative (numerical) data. PART 7: Analysis and Discussion (2-4 paragraphs) - Here is where you interpret the data found (always keep in mind what you are trying to prove with your hypothesis) - Use Graphs, diagrams are also useful if applicable. Graph must include title, labeled axes, equal intervals, appropriate style for information, and MUST be referred to and discussed within your writing. You may use Excel or draw the graph. If it is drawn it MUST be neat with straight edges and large enough to read. (You can visit class website for a tutorial on how to use excel for graphing.) - Discuss outliers (data that is inconsistent with a trend noticed) - Discuss how the results support or reject your hypothesis. - Discuss possible errors that could have affected the results (very important!). PART 8: Conclusion (1 paragraph) - Give a brief overview of the process of the experiment - Sum up the results - Whether your hypothesis was supported or rejected by the results and why - Discuss errors - Discuss future plans to improve upon experiment and what other research can be done. PART 9: References Make sure all information that was researched is cited within the paper and referenced here.
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