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The lab report

The laboratory report is an important form of writing for scientists as it provides a record of experiments completed. Depending on the type of task or investigation you carry out, the sections of the written piece may vary, but a lab report or project report will usually have a title page, abstract, introduction and methods, results, discussion sections, a conclusion and references test section.

Section Description

Title page + ID details

  • displays your name and student ID number
  • the title gives a precise description of what is in the report

    (this may be supplied by the lecturer).
Abstract
  • placed at the beginning of the report
  • provides a summary of the entire paper (about 5% of the whole text) including:
    • the problem and its importance
    • what was done (the experiment)
    • how it was done (the method)
    • what resulted (the most important results)
    • what this research contributes to the field (significance)
    • NB: The abstract does not include figures or tables.

Introduction

  • gives the background or scope of study
  • includes background information so that the reader
    1. understands the question behind the research
    2. how it relates to other work in the field, and
    3. why it is worth investigating.

Methods

  • describes the methods and procedures used
  • clearly explains the methodology so that it could be replicated (repeated) by another researcher.

Results

  • presents the results of the experiment
  • uses an equation editor with correct mathematical symbols if the results involve numbers and equations
  • includes clearly labelled figures, tables and graphs where appropriate.

Discussion

  • analyses and interprets the results, showing how these relate to the scope of study
  • states conclusions about how the results confirm, verify, or support the hypothesis, or refute, negate, or contradict it.
  • NB: The word "prove" is not used except in very specific contexts (eg in mathematics).

Conclusion

  • summarises the conclusions of the study.
References
  • lists all references cited in the text.

For an outline of the organisation of a typical laboratory report and samples of each section of the report, check the site on laboratory report Launch new window.

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