Many first-grade college students would ask, “How do I do my lab report the right way?” The answer to this question is, “by following the structure guidelines and by showing your competence in the topic.” In other words, you need to observe the proper structure of a lab report and provide a complex analysis in the discussion section of the report. Speaking of sections, an average lab report has the following structure.
1. Title Page
The title of your lab report, the place where the experiment was conducted, and the names of all participants should be present here. Make the title concise and informative. Do not forget to include everyone in the names list.
This is your summary of 100-200 words regarding the essence of your experiment. What was its initial purpose? What did you find? How significant were the findings, if they were such? What conclusions can we draw from the current experiment? In average, 10 sentences would be enough.
In it, you need to briefly state the key objective of your experiment. Also, you may give a brief intro into what incited you to conduct it or what theoretic background you are using in your experiment. Usually, students need to write a few sentences here.
4. Methods and Materials
Here, you mention what kind of equipment you used and what methods you relied upon. Sometimes, there are ready-made manuals where everything is already stated. If yours is the case, then you can simply refer the reader of your lab report to a “XXXX manual”.
5. Experimental Procedure
In this section, you need to write down all your steps during the experiment consequently. Chronological order and precise account of the procedure are essential. If you have the procedure described in the abovementioned manual, then you can refer to it again. However, when some of the steps differ from the ones in your manual, then mention this information in your report. Precision is important here, as your experiment could be later repeated by others.
In the results section, you need to provide all the key findings of your experiment in a readable form. Use tables and graphs where applicable. Nevertheless, don’t forget to introduce and summarize your graphs in words.
In the discussion section, as we have already mentioned before, you should analyze the results of your experiment. Provide interpretation of your findings, compare them with the expected results, and provide explanation of why your expectations were met (or not). This is the most personal part of your lab report and the one where you can demonstrate your understanding of the topic and your scientific way of thinking.
In the conclusion, summarize the key finding of your experiment and support it with some evidence. Often, students are asked to write about the significance of their findings. Also, they should demonstrate the perspective of research in the particular area by suggesting further studies.
You should mention here all the sources you used to research the information for your experiment. If you did the experiment according to a manual, include it in the references as well. Don’t forget about formatting the sources in a proper way.
All the additional materials, such as calculations, primary data, etc. should be attached to your lab report as an appendix. However, don’t attach something you don’t refer to in the text.
So, such are the basic structure guidelines for writing your lab report. Note that specific subjects, as well as individual professors, might have slightly different guidelines for lab reports. When you follow the ones that we have provided here, make sure that no other instructions were given to you that contradict ours. Otherwise, good luck with your report!