How to Write an A-Level Formal Lab Report

Jenifer

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How to Write an A-Level Formal Lab Report

Some college and university majors include various laboratory courses where you need to conduct research and experiments all the time. However, it is only one part of the educational process since you will deal with various writing assignments. It sounds not so obvious, but if you want to become a professional scientist, you should know that science is always a collaboration. Yes, individuals can develop different ideas, but they need to share them with the scientific community to prove their validity, discuss, find out weak points, and improve them.

It means that if you want to get good grades, impress your professor, and start a successful career, you should develop the skill to communicate your ideas effectively. You should be able to write for different audiences, to format the paper correctly, and, of course, to come up with an original work that brings something new to the table. That’s why we are going to tell you how to write a lab report.

Lab Reports Definition

The lab report is one of the most frequent kinds of papers written in scientific majors, such as psychology, biology, chemistry, engineering, etc. As you will deal with them all the time, it is important to understand the definition and purposes.

So, a lab (or laboratory) report is a document that describes your findings during some research or experiment and communicates their importance. It is not enough to present data, you need to show that you understand all the data behind this data. You can provide a lab report with expected and observed results, but it is just a C-grade, or even worse. If you need to boost your performance and gain new skills, it is essential to explain how and why some events occurred, how they affected your research, what consequences they can have, etc.

However, you should be ready that each professor expects something a little different. That’s why it is important to read one’s instructions attentively and follow them coherently.

Science Lab Report Essentials

Though you may have individual requirements from your professor, most likely, they will relate to some nuances and specific details. Most lab reports have a unified structure since they are written to be published in scientific journals and other sources.

So, there are some essentials you need to know about before you start writing. And before you get your feet wet, think about the main purpose of scientific reports. Your primary task is to communicate the research findings and insights and help readers understand them.

Below, you will find sections that all lab reports should include. Check this list against your professor's requirements to make sure you know what to do.

Title Page

Depending on your major and formatting style, your lab report might not have the title page, but if your professor wants you to include one, do it. Usually, it is just one page with the following information:

  • the title of your lab research;
  • your name as well as the names of your partners, e.g., fellow students;
  • the name of your instructor;
  • the date of the lab performance (or the report submitting).

It is crucial to provide the title page by all academic standards. It goes about the font type, font size, indents, and other details that may not look so significant, but they are. To save your time, you can use our title page generator to come up with a final result in just a couple of seconds.

Introduction or Purpose

The introduction is the first informative section of your paper, where you need to provide your audience with the research background. It should include the purposes of the proposed work, as well as your goals. For example, if you experiment to prove or disprove some hypothesis, it is important to state this in your introduction.

Besides, you need to provide readers with reasons you do this, who will benefit from this research and some basic scientific background facts. It is not necessary to copy information from your textbook, but take into account that your audience may not be familiar with some nuances that are important in the context of your research.

In short, your Introduction or Purpose section should be based on:

  • background to the topic;
  • a brief analysis of the previous researches on the same topic;
  • purposes for the experiment;
  • reasons why you conduct this work.

Materials

When you are working on scientific research and describing this process to other people, you need to provide your knowledge, insights, and findings as if these people will repeat your experience. In other words, you create something like instructions to follow.

That’s why it is important to report any materials you have used during the experiment: equipment, tools, chemicals. Do not forget to add detailed quantities and formulas and provide the order of use in the research. Remember that if your readers use other materials, they will get the other result in different consistency or proportion, making your research less valuable. That’s how a report differs from, for example, an essay it is strict and concrete.

Methods or Procedure

This section is the logical continuation of the previous one, where you have described the materials necessary to conduct the lab research. It contains about 1.5 pages.

Now your task is to record your steps in chronological order. It should be an instruction, but written as prose, in the past tense, and the third person. Include the most important details of what variables were used, what observations were made, and what tools were used.

It is also necessary to provide any conditions that may affect the result. It can be atmospheric pressure, operating temperature, humidity, etc. Include all relevant information, including specific techniques.

However, describing the procedure, you need to ensure your document is logical, concise, and does not contain any excessive information that may be interesting but not practical.

Data or Results

Your next step is to provide the audience with a numerical description of the research results. Students typically present it as graphs or tables. It is important to format them appropriately, without copying from the lab handout. It is easy to notice since some lines do not make sense for your report.

To share the central insights of the lab research, show processed data. If you have large quantities of the raw information, store it electronically, for example, in the cloud, and provide your readers with a way to access it if it is beneficial.

It is also necessary to include example calculations in the correct format with the explanation. Each time you provide a calculation, support it with a 1-2 sentence description.

At this stage, you should not perform an interpretation of the results unless your professor requires you to combine the Results section with Discussion one.

Discussion or Analysis

The Discussion or Analysis section is where you can analyze the experiment and the results you have received. There is a list of some questions you should answer before writing:

  • What does the obtained data mean?
  • Do results answer the initial research questions?
  • What is the relevance to your scientific field issues?
  • Where are the mistakes introduced?
  • What were the limitations explored in the research process?

It is important to understand whether the results met your expectations, whether or not they prove/disprove your hypothesis. If you have got unexpected results, think of the reasons for these findings. You need to ensure that the Analysis section refers to the Introduction one so that your paper is a coherent document. That’s why many students write them together, and they look pretty seamless.

Conclusions

When you are writing an essay or any other student paper, you need to develop a short conclusion part where you deduce some insights, analyze the work process, and make new suggestions for future research.

The same thing works for the lab report. You should not give any new information or delve too deep. Summarize the paper, and provide your readers with a couple of inspirational ideas. They should be additional, non-essential, just to put an end and give answers to all possible questions.

Figures

Depending on your major and formatting style, it is essential to provide a couple of additional sections with the information you have used in the main text. Figures are:

  • pictures;
  • diagrams;
  • graphs;
  • tables.

In other words, any visual content should be gathered in one place and numbered sequentially in the order you have used it.

There are strict format requirements according to different academic standards, so you should find an official guide and follow its recommendations. A good example lab report can also come in handy since you can see what other students do and how it looks like not in the textbook but on real paper.

References

When you cite some facts or use someone else’s work in your paper, it is important to provide a correct reference, to give credits. Depending on the format, you will use footnotes right in the text so that your reader can understand that this concrete sentence is a citation or was inspired by other people. And it is also necessary to provide an additional section where you gather all the references and the information where your readers can find it. APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and other styles have their requirements, so you need to read them before compiling the References or any other section.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is not the mandatory part of the formal lab report, but your professor may ask you to provide it, mostly when your piece is published somewhere. Generally, it is a stand-alone document with the most important information from your research. It is like a book review when the reader explores it quickly to decide whether one is interested. So, this paper should include the actual results and conclusions from your lab experiment.

Some Additional Tips to Make Your Lab Report Brilliant

Studying at college or university, you do not just pursue a degree depending on the major. You gain new knowledge and skills that make you a smart person who is fully developed and can generate new ideas and communicate them effectively.

That’s why you should think not about the lab research only, think about what stands behind. What does your professor want to receive? What is the real purpose of this task?

Our writers have prepared some actionable tips to make your lab report better. You can use them to succeed with other writing assignments as well.

Consider Your Language And Style

When you write a lab report, you should remember that it is a scientific paper that should be free of errors. You can't use jargon or slang. Follow the formal and precise style of writing. If you include some acronyms or abbreviations that are not obvious, support them with the definition. Technical engineering documents should not contain personal pronouns and contractions (do not, is not, etc.)

Writing a text, it is elementary to forget about all these details. When you are focused on concepts and ideas, you do not think about colloquial terms, contractions, and the necessity of the information you provide. That’s why once you have finished the paper, you need to come back to it in a couple of days for proofreading. Get rid of errors and ambiguity. Ensure your report is clear, grammatically sound, and with correct spelling. Such little details may spoil the overall impression, so do not let your inattentiveness ruin your grades.

Avoid Plagiarism

It is impossible to write high-quality content without using information from various sources. Especially when it comes to scientific research. Until you are not a pioneer in your field, you have some role models. You develop the hypothesis based on previous experiments and their results. You do not need to reinvent the wheel and make the same mistakes when you can use it to develop something new.

So, it is normal to refer to someone or cite someone else’s works in your paper. The thing you should not forget about is the uniqueness. Your paper can't contain any plagiarism since the academic community does not accept it. Students must follow integrity principles and create their content, even if it is not so good. That’s why it is important to ensure your paper is written following concrete style rules since even if you do not steal the content, lack of appropriate formatting can be considered plagiarism.

Request the Feedback

It is not so easy to look at your paper with the eyes of other people. You have devoted a lot of time to it, so you are biased, you will probably miss some errors. Besides, you have more knowledge about concrete research, so you may not mention that some sentences are not clear enough. It is where you should show your lab report to someone.

It can be your friend, but only if the one has the appropriate background to evaluate the text. You can organize a small group with other students to help each other, share insights, read papers, and exchange feedback. It would be best if you had someone who can say what you can improve in your piece before you submit the final draft.

Ask For Professional Help

Academic writing is always a challenge, especially if you have a science major. You may be the best student in the laboratory, but your performance depends on the writing assignments.

You should understand that even if you have conducted a perfect experiment with excellent results, it does not matter without a good report. Nobody will know about your research if you do not present it correctly.

That’s why if you feel that you can't come up with an A-level lab report, it would be a great idea to ask for professional help. The expert writer can provide you with a decent paper according to your requirements. It will be well-structured, informative, and unique.

Or you can use editing or proofreading services to ensure your document is flawless and ready for publication in the scientific journal.

Do not miss this opportunity to impress your professor and audience!

Originally published Feb 10, 2021, updated Feb 18, 2021

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