Why Write a Lab Report
Lab reports are common endeavors for pure science students and students in some social science disciplines like psychology.
They are part of the curriculum requirements considered essential for the graduation.
Lab reports however could be some of the most challenging assignments in one’s academic pursuits.
They are considered important in educating the students on the integral processes in science.
Equally, they are essential in the development of skills in the scientific method, scientific thinking, inquiry, and scientific communication.
Nonetheless, students encounter numerous challenges when writing lab reports. These challenges include:
a) Gathering the relevant data: data is extremely important in helping arrive at accurate scientific results.
Students in most cases face challenges in understanding as well as securing the relevant data in a scientific report.
b) Interpretation of the data collected: this entails challenges of inferring the data and information derived from a lab experiment in order to arrive at certain conclusions.
Interpretation requires an in-depth understanding of the underlying scientific knowledge.
Features of a Good Lab Report
Good lab reports are the difference between good and poor grades.
Students are therefore required to understand the basic characteristics of good lab reports.
These characteristics may encompass:
a) They should be concise: this requires that the lab reports be on point.
They should not be unnecessarily long but rather contain information that is relevant to the experiment process and interpretation of results.
Lengthy and irrelevant lab reports should be avoided at all costs.
Quality and not quantity is the key.
b) The lab report should effectively address the target audience: in this, lab reports should aim at effectively articulating the results to the target audience.
This looks into using a language that can be easily understood by people who did not participate in the experiment process.
c) It should be free of grammatical and typographical mistakes: mistakes in grammar and spelling should be avoided at all costs.
They convey a poor image to the reader and may negatively influence their attitude towards your work.
Components of a Lab Report
The components of a lab report is important in effective communication of the experiment.
Generally, lab reports assume varying formats that define the respective components.
Some of the most common components are as shown below.
a) Title Page
d) Methods and Materials
Steps of Writing a Lab Report
Understanding the respective steps in lab report writing is key in producing a top-quality report.
Lab reports could vary from one institution/instructor to another.
Nonetheless, there are various steps that define the standard lab report writing process.
These steps include:
Step 1: Understanding the Lab Report Undertaking
This step entails going through the proposed lab experiment to understand the requirements and expectations of the experiment.
The student should clarify the steps involved in conducting the lab experiment.
Step 2: Writing the Introduction
This step encompasses exploring the problem under study and the theory in application.
It should be brief and concise, stipulating the goal and relevant theory or procedures.
This is achieved through the use of background sentences that stipulate the experiment, its relevancy, and similar or related experiments conducted in the past.
Step 3: Developing a Procedural Flowchart
This step entails developing a flowchart laying down what the lab experiment will entail.
It is a graphic representation of the experiment’s procedure and should be brief and concise.
This should be accomplished through relaying the experiment’s steps in a diagrammatic form in their respective order of occurrence.
It should be as simple as possible to enhance ease in understanding by the audience.
Step 4: Gathering the Data
This is an extremely important part of the lab report writing process.
A pen should be used to record the collected data directly into the lab report notebook.
All data should be recorded immediately to avoid incidences of lost data in cases where you forget.
Remember, do not erase anything or completely scrap off data gathered.
Observations made should as well be noted down.
These may include observations on smells, sounds, color, temperatures, and gas changes.
Step 5: Organizing Collected Data
This step should entail recopying the collected data and arranging it in a neat format.
Organizational skills are essential, where tables are quite appropriate in this step.
All formulas used in the lab report process should be written down.
Equally, all workings should be clearly shown and all the units should be included in respective calculations.
This is important in testing whether you employed the right method.
Step 6: Writing the Conclusion
Writing the conclusion involves briefly summing up the experiment in the lab report.
It should be brief and concise.
The conclusion should include such information as what was done in the experiment, the results of the experiment, what conclusions were derived from the experiment, and possible errors in the experiment.