Such actions are plagiarism, even though the statement may not be word-for-word the same as in the original. Just remember the basic rule: There are four fundamental sections to a scientific report, with acknowledgments, literature cited, and appendices being additional sections.
An underlined heading should be given at the beginning of each section optional for the introduction. Keep in mind that the lab report is parallel to the experimental process D.
Begin with broad statements, including enough background information with reference to outside sources to set the stage for your experiment. Then narrow down to your particular study, explaining why it is of interest. Specify the objectives of the experiment, and make your hypotheses clear. One to three paragraphs is usually sufficient. Do not regurgitate the lab handout; write your own introduction.
Summarize briefly the entire process that was followed and the materials that were used, and then refer to the lab directions and to any flow charts you have included for the details. Do note any differences in the procedures you actually followed from what was specified in the lab directions. Anyone who reads your report should be able to duplicate the experiment. Do not include results here. The data and results are given here in summary form.
One of the most common mistakes beginning students make is to omit the narrative in the results section. The narrative should be more than just saying, "Table 2 shows the percentage of students with different blood types. All tables and figures should be titled and numbered sequentially , and the axes should be well labeled with clearly marked units. In addition to the title, each table and figure should have a legend 1 to 3 sentences which explains what is being presented.
A sample table and figure are given at the end of this handout. If the whole thing can be typed, it is a table; if lines have to be drawn, then it is a figure. Each table and figure should be put on a separate page and referred to by number in the results narrative. Tables and figures follow the text of the report after the literature cited.
Sample calculations may be included in an appendix at the end of the report. In this section the results should be interpreted and their significance explained. Begin the discussion by interpreting your specific results and end it more broadly by placing your results in context.
If erroneous results were obtained, discuss the results you expected as well as those you received. You may also compare methods or discuss difficulties, but if you list sources of error, you should estimate how important each source of error may be. If you were to do the experiment again, what if anything, would you do differently? It is inappropriate to include statements such as "I learned a lot from this experiment The acknowledgments section is optional. If you wish to thank someone, such as a lab partner or a tutor at the Writing Center, for help in understanding the experiment or in organizing the report, you do so here.
Scientists regularly acknowledge others for helping with experiments or commenting on written drafts. List any publications referred to in your paper alphabetically by first author; do not number them. If you use information from an intermediary source, you should list the original reference but should also note the intermediary: We will use the following standard forms some journals use variations of these , shown in order for: Mantle-mediated shell decollation increases posterior aperture size in Dentalium rectius Carpenter Scaphopoda: Insulin cells are found in the main and accessory urinary bladders of the painted turtle, Chrysemys picta.
Little, Brown and Co. Consequences of sunflecks for photosynthesis and growth of forest understory plants. Pages in E. Springer Verlag, New York. You may use them to include your laboratory handout, sample calculations, sets of raw data, etc. The last thing to do before turning a report in is to read it. Correct all typographical errors and other mistakes, and ensure that you have said what you wanted to say! This handout was written by E. Williams, Hamilton College, with modifications by D.
Lab Reports for Biology. Additional Navigation About Us History. Seven Deadly Sins of Writing 1. Incorrect Punctuation of Two Independent Clauses. Include any background information the reader needs to understand why the experiment is needed. Include any historical or theoretical background that is relevant to the research.
This is usually accomplished by a literature review of published, peer-reviewed, primary materials. If your report uses any specific terminology or jargon, explain it in the introduction. Use the appropriate vocabulary to explain what you are doing. You are likely trying to test, document, or describe something.
You cannot prove, verify, or demonstrate the truth about something as this is not possible within the realm of science. Make sure your word choices reflect this within your report. Summarize with an abstract. This section is not always included in lab reports. An abstract is a very concise summary of the entire experiment. It should cover why the experiment was conducted, what methods were used, what was the main result, and what were your overall conclusions. Often, this section is only one paragraph words in length.
List all of your materials used in the lab. Incorporate the material descriptions into the procedural explanation as the items were used during the experiment. Include specific amounts, times, and measurements. Write a step-by-step description of the procedures. The level of detail should be high enough to allow someone else to duplicate your experiment, without including any unnecessary information that may overwhelm the reader. If you can reproduce the experiment without the information, then you should leave it out.
Write this section in the past tense. It should read like an accounting of what you did, not an instruction manual.
For example, "We made a solution of 3 oz. Some academic requirements use third-person perspective. Try to keep the writing as straightforward and easy to follow as possible. This is the collection of all the factual data obtained from your experiment. State the results in the text first, then use visual aids to show the data. Tables and graphs are not self-explanatory and have to be described and explained to the reader in the text. Charts, tables, and graphs are often useful in presenting this information in an easy to understand format.
Every chart, table, or graph should be labeled. Identify any trends or patterns within the data. You want to make sure these are made clear to the reader in the results. Do not interpret the data in the results.
Interpreting the data will be done in the concluding section. Include a summary of the data. Try not to copy from the data section. Highlight key points of information from the data that are most relevant to drawing your conclusion, then elaborate with your interpretation of the data.
Discuss possible errors in the experiment. Comment on what you think may have caused the error. Offer an explanation how could the experiment be changed to correct them. Only discuss errors if they are verified by data in your study. If rainy conditions seemed to influence the unexpected outcome, then state that. But do not state that rainy conditions could have caused errors if there is no evidence to support it.
This is where you interpret the results of the experiment. Accept or reject your hypothesis and explain why. Your goal is to convince the reader that you completely understand the data and have considered it fully and intelligently.
Aim for pages for the conclusion. Just present the information that is relevant to your conclusion in an organized and logical manner. Give credit where credit is due. Make sure any sources are properly credited. Schools and professors take plagiarism very seriously and it can have serious consequences.
The way in which you cite each source is: Last name of author, first initial. Name of journal volume number, page range For example: Does acoustic testing strand whales?
Nature , Paraphrase ideas from others in your report.
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