Lab Report Writing
This is a general guide to writing lab reports but always double check the requirements from your own department. If you still have questions after reading through this document why not book an appointment with one of our tutors. We have 1-to-1 appointments available in Chemistry, Physics and Writing Skills. Any of these tutors would be very happy to help you structure your lab reports.
A Lab Report consists of seven components: abstract, introduction, procedures, results, discussion, conclusion, and in some cases, references.
The Abstract is a one or two paragraph, concise yet detailed summary of the report. It should contain these four elements:
- the main objective of the study (the central question)
- a brief statement of what was done (methods)
- a brief statement of what was found (results)
- a brief statement of what was concluded (discussion)
It is often easier to write the abstract once the other components of the lab report are written.
This section tells the reader why you did the experiment. Include background information that suggests why the topic is of interest and related findings. It should contain the following:
- a description of the nature of the problem and a summary of relevant research. Provide context and key terms so that the reader can understand the experiment.
- a statement of the purpose, scope and general method of investigation in the study - express the central question being asked.
- a description of the experiment, the research question and hypothesis.
Procedures (Materials and Methods)
This section should describe all experimental procedures in detail.
Guidelines for this section:
- Explain the general type of scientific procedure used to study the problem.
- Describe the materials, subjects and equipment used.
- Explain the steps taken in the experiment.
- Mathematical equations and statistical steps should be described.
The results section should present data collected from the experiment and summarise data with text, tables, and/or figures. Effective results:
- Results should be presented, including those that do not support the hypothesis
- Statements made in text must be supported by results contained in figures and tables.
The discussion section should explain the significance of the results and give a detailed account of what happened in the experiment. If results contained errors, analyse the reasons for the errors
- Summarize the important findings of observation.
- Describe patterns, principles and relationships for result.
- Explain how results relate to expectations, agreements, contradictions or exceptions.
- Suggest theoretical implications of results. Extend findings to other situations or other species. Give the big picture - do findings help us understand a broader topic?
A brief summary of what was done, how it was done, show the results and conclusions of the experiment.
Discuss if you could improve experimental technique.
List any works cited in the text of report. Harvard referencing is usually preferred. Have a look at the library resources about how to do this https://library.cit.ie/contentfiles/PDFs/Harvard_UG_2020.pdf.
You can also book an appointment with one of our writing tutors who can guide you through the process of referencing.