Lab Report Guidelines
A Lab Report should be a document that tells the reader what was done in an
experiment or activity, and what was discovered. It should be written so
that the reader can duplicate the activity and results if they so desire.
Some labs will be performed from handouts or lab manuals, while in others you
will devise your own procedure. This is supposed to be a general
guide so you can write a clear lab report from any class activity in any
science class. Remember that the main goal is to show the reader what was
done in the order it was done. Some of the details will be
different from instructor to instructor.
- Title Section -
This should be the first thing the reader sees when they look at your
report. It should include your name, the name of anyone you actually
worked with (write "no partner" if you worked alone), the date
the lab is due, the class and period, and of course the title of the lab
- Purpose/Hypothesis - This section should be short, and should tell the reader why the
experiment was performed. Do not describe the procedure or repeat
the introduction section of any handouts - this section should be
short. This section may actually be
unnecessary if it is included on the lab handout, and you are allowed to
include the handout.
Activities that are designed to
prove a point, determine a value, or identify an unknown will have a
stated purpose. It should be short: one or two sentences stating the
goal of the activity.
Activities designed to answer a
question should have a hypothesis. This is an
"If...Then..." statement that can be proven or disproven.
- Procedure - A
concise numbered list of instructions describing what you actually
did. If this is on your lab
handout you may not need to re-write it, but you should note any changes
you made. Also, if you performed a procedure from a lab manual,
don't re-write the steps, just tell the reader
exactly where they can find the procedure.
- Data & Observations - Data is any information you read directly off a tool or
instrument. This should always be in table form. Make sure
every single number has a description, a value, and a label (this can be
condensed if you have many similar pieces of data by labeling a column
heading such as "Length
(m)"). Make sure you read your instruments
correctly. There should not be any information that isn't
data, and there shouldn't be anything missing. Data should be
presented in the order it was obtained. Spend time making sure this
section is clear and easy to read.
- Graph(s) -
Sometimes it is easier to show information or perform calculations on a
graph than a list of numbers. In some cases, a graph will be shown
but not the data it came from (keep the data in your notebook!).
A graph should always fill the available space. The axes should be
named and labeled ("Mass in grams"). The scales
should be consistent but they don't have to be the same. You only need to use a range to include
your data - if the temperature stays between 20 and 70 Celcius,
your graph doesn't need to go from 0 to 100.
- Analysis or Questions - this part depends on the lab. You may have specific
questions to answer or calculations to perform. Most handouts or lab
manuals include a few questions or instructions after the procedure.
Show these clearly and fully answered in the order they turn up.
Show all your work for calculations (including units) and answer every
question with full sentences and clear explanations.
- Neat - The
sections must be in the correct order, one side of each sheet, stapled or
bound, typed or neatly written in
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