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Science: Lab report
What is a science lab report.
A science lab report is a structured way of communicating the outcomes of your practical work.
The structure of a typical lab report includes the following sections:
- Aim and Hypothesis - Why you conducted the practical work.
- Method - How you conducted the practical work and how any data processed.
- Results - What was the data, process or product obtained from the practical work.
- Discussion - How your results addressed your aim and hypothesis.
- Conclusion - What was the overall outcome of your practical work and how do your finding relate to the larger body of scientific knowledge.
You can apply the common report writing techniques outlined below, after always checking the specific details of your assignment.
Top tips for science lab reports View
Lab report structure.
The title describes the purpose of the practical work in precise terms.
The majority of your practical work will involve measurements, observations or the creation of some object of interest. For example: The Period of a Simple Pendulum
It is clear from the above lab report title that it describes the measurement of a property called a ‘period’, and the object of interest is a ‘simple pendulum’.
Check your understanding View
The abstract provides a brief overview of the practical work, including key results and conclusions.
Keep your abstract short, i.e. about one paragraph or 250 to 500 words. It must be clear enough that the reader can understand a summary of the report without needing to read the rest of it.
In general, the abstract should answer six questions. Addressing each question only requires one to two sentences:
- Why was the experiment conducted? (big-picture/real-world view).
- What specific problem/research question was being addressed?
- What methods were used to solve the problem/answer the question?
- What results were obtained?
- What do these results mean?
- How do the results answer the overall question or improve our understanding of the problem?
Shorter lab reports may not require an abstract, so check your guidelines first.
The introduction is where you introduce the reader to the broader context of your practical work and then narrow down to the hypothesis, aims or research question you intend to address.
You should also succinctly explain relevant theory and discuss any relevant laws, equations or theorems.
The method section is where you describe what you actually did during the practical work. You need to describe the actions you took in a way that someone from your field has enough information to replicate the process and achieve a similar result.
You must also include any unplanned changes to the original process which occurred during the execution of the experiment. A great way to keep track of this is to use a lab notebook during the practical work to note any change you make.
Turn lab instructions into a lab report method
A common mistake students make is copying the instructions their teachers provide directly into their method section. You will generally be provided with a set of instructions to complete your practical work. These instructions are NOT written in the style of a laboratory report. A typical set of instructions usually includes:
- How the apparatus and equipment were set up (e.g. experimental set-up), usually including a diagram.
- A list of materials used.
- Steps used to collect the data.
- Any experimental difficulties encountered and how they were resolved or worked around.
Below is an example of the instructions provided to a student to carry out a first year chemistry experiment.
Phrases are used here to specifically instruct the student who may be performing the technique for the first time. This is different from a lab report where you are reporting on what you did. For example, the instructions say:
- 'use a clear pipette…'
- 'rinse the burette…'
- 'remember to take the reading from the centre of the meniscus…'
These are not appropriate phrases to include in the lab report.
Also note that the language of the instructions is in the present tense in bullet points. The method section of your report should instead be written in the past tense as a cohesive paragraph.
However, there are ways you can change the language of the instructions to write your method section.
Below is an example of how these lab instructions were summarised into a method in a laboratory report:
Lab report: method
25ml of HCl(aq) was pipetted into a 100ml conical flask. A burette was then filled with standardised NaOH(aq). A sheet of white paper was placed under the burette. The conical flask was placed onto the white paper and five drops of universal indicator was added to the flask. The standardised NaOH(aq) was titrated into the flask with constant swirling until there was an observable colour change.
How to change lab instructions into a lab method
How to use a passive voice in lab reports.
While most science units require that you report in the passive voice , some require the active voice . In the example below, the first person plural is used in the active voice, i.e. "we initiated". Usage of the active voice is accepted in some disciplines, but not others. Check your unit information or talk to your teacher.
While in science the passive voice is generally preferred, some disciplines may allow or prefer the active voice. Read samples of student reports below and identify which examples are written in passive voice, and which use active voice.
The results section is where you present a summary of the data collected during your experiments. This section is not just a copy of the raw data from your lab notebook. Rather, it may involve calculation, analysis and the drawing up of tables and figures to present your data.
When you take your raw data and perform some sort of mathematical operation to change it, it is good practice to show the equations you used in your analysis, as well as one worked example using each equation. Calculations that are very long or repeated multiple times are usually included in an appendix (see below).
In some disciplines, if formulae are used, it is common to number them as equations:
Error analysis is a type of calculation that indicates the accuracy of your results, usually done by determining the level of uncertainty. The sources of error that you need to consider will vary between experiments and disciplines, but you will usually need to factor in both random and systematic errors.
Any analysis and calculations of the errors or uncertainties in the experiment are included in the results section unless otherwise specified. In some disciplines the analysis and uncertainty calculations are presented under their own heading. Check the requirements given in your unit information or lab manual, or ask your tutor if you are unsure where to place calculations
Tables and figures
Most numerical data are presented using tables or figures. These need to be clearly labelled following the standard conventions for captions, and titles must tell the reader precisely what data is being presented.
If a measurement is stated in the title, in a column of a table or on the axis of a graph and it has units associated with it, these must be included (usually in brackets).
The table below presents a series of measurements collected during an experiment. Notice the units in every column with the brackets. Some measurements such as pH or C p do not have units.
The figure below is a graphical representation of aerodynamic measurements. Notice the axes are labelled with appropriate units and the caption at the bottom of the figure clearly describes what the figure is about.
Figures can also be a wide variety of images. The figure below is an image taken from a type of molecular microscope. Notice the caption at the bottom of the figure clearly describing the figure and the specification of the magnification of the microscope.
If you must use figures from another source, indicate in the citation whether you have modified it in any way to avoid collusion or plagiarism .
The discussion section is where you interpret and evaluate your results. To do this you need to summarise your key results, summarise unexpected results, and explain how your results relate to your aims, hypotheses or literature as stated at the start of the report. Here are some tips on writing discussion sections:
Identify and describe any trends or patterns you have observed. If these are numerical trends, state the values. Avoid using unspecific words such as ‘higher, lower, increased, decreased’, which can make the information vague.
Compare the experimental results with any predictions you made.
Interpret what the results mean in relation to the aims, research question(s) or hypothesis.
Describe any results which were unexpected or didn’t match your predictions.
Suggest explanations for unexpected results based on the theory and procedures of the experiment.
Evaluate how any sources of error might impact on the interpretation of your results in relation to the aims, research question(s) or hypothesis.
- State the limitations of the study and link to literature
Clarify how the limitations of the study might affect the accuracy and precision of the answers to your aim, research question or hypothesis.
Suggest how the experiment or analysis could have been improved. A longer report may require support from the academic literature.
Explain how your results do or do not address your aim, research question or hypothesis, and indicate future directions for the research.
The discussion example below is from a first-year Biology unit. The aim of this experiment was to identify decomposition rates of leaf breakdown to establish rates of energy transfer.
Drag each description of each component of the Discussion section to its example. Notice the order in which the components make up a coherent Discussion section.
Students often make the mistake of thinking a conclusion section is identical to a discussion section.
The conclusion section is where you summarise your report. A conclusion is usually one paragraph or 200 to 300 words. In this way a conclusion is very similar to an abstract, but with more emphasis on the results and discussion.
A conclusion never introduces any new ideas or results. Rather, it provides a concise summary of those which have already been presented in the report. When writing a conclusion you should:
- briefly restate the purpose of the experiment (i.e. the question it was seeking to answer)
- identify the main findings (i.e. the answer to the research question)
- note the main limitations that are relevant to the interpretation of the results
- summarise what the experiment has contributed to the broader understanding of the problem.
Conclusion example with feedback
When in-text citations are incorporated into your lab report (typically in the introduction or discussion) you must always have the full references included in a separate reference list. The reference list is a separate section that comes after your conclusion (and before any appendices). Check your lab manual or unit information to determine which referencing style is preferred. Carefully follow that referencing style for your in-text references and reference list. You can find examples and information about common referencing styles in the Citing and referencing Library guide . The following is an example of a reference list based on the in-text citations used in the Introduction and Conclusion sections in this tutorial. This example has been formatted in accordance with the CSIRO referencing style .
Jones T, Smith K, Nguyen P, di Alberto P (2017) Effects of habitat overlap on population sampling. Environmental Ecology Journal 75 , 23-29. doi: 10.5432/1111.23
Tian M, Castillo TL (2016) Solar heating uptake in Australia: rates, causes and effects. Energy Efficiency Reports. Report no. 10, The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Canberra.
An appendix (plural = appendices) contains material that is too detailed to include in the main report, such as tables of raw data or detailed calculations.
Each appendix must be:
- given a number (or letter) and title
- referred to by number (or letter) at the relevant point in the text.
The calculated values are shown in Table 3 below. For detailed calculations, see Appendix 1.
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How to Write a Good Lab Conclusion in Science
Last Updated: June 4, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Bess Ruff, MA . Bess Ruff is a Geography PhD student at Florida State University. She received her MA in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. She has conducted survey work for marine spatial planning projects in the Caribbean and provided research support as a graduate fellow for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,743,119 times.
A lab report describes an entire experiment from start to finish, outlining the procedures, reporting results, and analyzing data. The report is used to demonstrate what has been learned, and it will provide a way for other people to see your process for the experiment and understand how you arrived at your conclusions. The conclusion is an integral part of the report; this is the section that reiterates the experiment’s main findings and gives the reader an overview of the lab trial. Writing a solid conclusion to your lab report will demonstrate that you’ve effectively learned the objectives of your assignment.
Outlining Your Conclusion
- Restate : Restate the lab experiment by describing the assignment.
- Explain : Explain the purpose of the lab experiment. What were you trying to figure out or discover? Talk briefly about the procedure you followed to complete the lab.
- Results : Explain your results. Confirm whether or not your hypothesis was supported by the results.
- Uncertainties : Account for uncertainties and errors. Explain, for example, if there were other circumstances beyond your control that might have impacted the experiment’s results.
- New : Discuss new questions or discoveries that emerged from the experiment.
- Your assignment may also have specific questions that need to be answered. Make sure you answer these fully and coherently in your conclusion.
Discussing the Experiment and Hypothesis
- If you tried the experiment more than once, describe the reasons for doing so. Discuss changes that you made in your procedures.
- Brainstorm ways to explain your results in more depth. Go back through your lab notes, paying particular attention to the results you observed.  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- Start this section with wording such as, “The results showed that…”
- You don’t need to give the raw data here. Just summarize the main points, calculate averages, or give a range of data to give an overall picture to the reader.
- Make sure to explain whether or not any statistical analyses were significant, and to what degree, such as 1%, 5%, or 10%.
- Use simple language such as, “The results supported the hypothesis,” or “The results did not support the hypothesis.”
Demonstrating What You Have Learned
- If it’s not clear in your conclusion what you learned from the lab, start off by writing, “In this lab, I learned…” This will give the reader a heads up that you will be describing exactly what you learned.
- Add details about what you learned and how you learned it. Adding dimension to your learning outcomes will convince your reader that you did, in fact, learn from the lab. Give specifics about how you learned that molecules will act in a particular environment, for example.
- Describe how what you learned in the lab could be applied to a future experiment.
- On a new line, write the question in italics. On the next line, write the answer to the question in regular text.
- If your experiment did not achieve the objectives, explain or speculate why not.
Wrapping Up Your Conclusion
- If your experiment raised questions that your collected data can’t answer, discuss this here.
- Describe what is new or innovative about your research.
- This can often set you apart from your classmates, many of whom will just write up the barest of discussion and conclusion.
Finalizing Your Lab Report
- If you include figures or tables in your conclusion, be sure to include a brief caption or label so that the reader knows what the figures refer to. Also, discuss the figures briefly in the text of your report. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Once again, avoid using personal pronouns (I, myself, we, our group) in a lab report. The first-person point-of-view is often seen as subjective, whereas science is based on objectivity. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Ensure the language used is straightforward with specific details. Try not to drift off topic. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Take care with writing your lab report when working in a team setting. While the lab experiment may be a collaborative effort, your lab report is your own work. If you copy sections from someone else’s report, this will be considered plagiarism. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://phoenixcollege.libguides.com/LabReportWriting/introduction
- ↑ https://www.hcs-k12.org/userfiles/354/Classes/18203/conclusionwriting.pdf
- ↑ https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/Pages/puttingittogether.aspx
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
- ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/types-of-writing/lab-report/
- ↑ http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/hypothes.php
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/conclusion
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/introduction/researchproblem
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/scientific-reports/
- ↑ https://phoenixcollege.libguides.com/LabReportWriting/labreportstyle
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
About This Article
To write a good lab conclusion in science, start with restating the lab experiment by describing the assignment. Next, explain what you were trying to discover or figure out by doing the experiment. Then, list your results and explain how they confirmed or did not confirm your hypothesis. Additionally, include any uncertainties, such as circumstances beyond your control that may have impacted the results. Finally, discuss any new questions or discoveries that emerged from the experiment. For more advice, including how to wrap up your lab report with a final statement, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Write a Conclusion for a College Lab Report
Writing lab reports is a crucial part of many college science courses. In a lab report, you detail your experiment from start to finish. This process involves outlining your procedures, recording your results and analyzing your data.
The conclusion paragraph is one of the most important elements of your lab report. It is your opportunity to summarize your experiment and identify your main takeaways. A strong conclusion conveys your experiment's objectives and how they connect to your findings.
What to Include in a Lab Report Conclusion
You can follow a few steps to craft an effective lab report conclusion:
1. Restate the Experiment's Goals
Start your conclusion paragraph with one or two sentences outlining the purpose of your experiment.
2. Describe the Methods Used
Briefly summarize the process you went through to complete the experiment.
3. Include and Analyze the Final Data
Describe your results and explain what they mean in the context of your experiment.
4. State Whether Your Experiment Succeeded
Explain whether your data supported your hypothesis. You should also outline any takeaways for future experiments, such as changes you would make and how you could expand the experiment.
Example of an Effective College-Level Lab Report Conclusion
Generally speaking, your lab report conclusion should be a well-developed paragraph that addresses the above points. Keep in mind that the specific length of your conclusion will vary depending on the complexity of your report.
You can use the below example as a reference while you craft your conclusion:
The goal of this experiment was to investigate the effect of stress on tomato plant growth. It compares the growth of tomato plants subjected to stress for 14 days to a control group of tomato plants not subjected to stress. The stressed tomato plants were exposed to high temperatures and received insufficient amounts of water. As the graph shows, the average height of the stressed tomato plants was 2.5 feet, and the average height of the nonstressed tomato plants was 3 feet. The height difference supports the hypothesis that stress stunts tomato plant growth. Additional experiments could study the effects of stress over a longer period. Subjecting other crops like squash or corn to the same experiment could also provide valuable information.
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How to Write a Lab Report Conclusion
When you are assigned a lengthy lab report, it is important to include a conclusion paragraph to sum up your procedures and results for your reader. A conclusion restates your goals and methods, includes any final data and notes whether you were able to successfully answer the questions posed by your experiment. If well-written, your conclusion helps the reader extract all the important points of your report while noting any of your experiment's unforeseen results.
Restate the Experiment's Goals
Begin your conclusion by restating the goals of your experiment. If you began your report with an introductory paragraph, briefly restate what you said there. Note all objectives of your experiment: What question or questions were you seeking to answer? Also include a summary of any predictions that you made for your experiment's results.
For example, let's say you performed an experiment to determine the freezing point for samples of water with different concentrations of salt. You would state that your experiment's goal was to find the relationship between salt concentration and water's freezing point. You would also include your prediction of how the salt concentration would affect the freezing point, based on your previous knowledge of chemistry.
Describe Methods Used
Provide a brief summary of the methods you used in your experiment. This should not be a comprehensive list of all items used in the experiment; the full list should be included in the "methods" section of your lab report. Note the important tools and substances in your experiment, and any methods used to obtain data. In addition to the summary of methods, include a brief explanation of why you chose those methods to obtain your data.
Include and Analyze Final Data
The heart of your lab report focuses on the data from your experiments -- including all the data you obtained along with a detailed analysis of that data. Your conclusion should not restate all the data from your experiment, only note any final data you've determined from analysis. For instance, if analyzing the data from an experiment to determine the density of formaldehyde produced an average result of 8.12 x 10^2kg/m^3, you would include only this result, and not any individual measurements from the experiment.
Your conclusion should also provide a brief explanation of what the final data from your experiment indicates. Explain any trends in your data, and note whether any irregularities in the results brought up further questions. Also report any possible sources of error in your data and your analysis.
State Whether Your Experiment Succeeded
Finally, in your conclusion, examine the data based on your goals and predictions for the experiment. State whether the results of your experiment allowed you to answer the questions that you set out in the introduction.
If you were successful, state so. If not, provide a possible explanation for why your experiment was unable to answer these questions, and suggest a method that could be used in another experiment to better answer them. Regardless of whether you were successful, state what you've learned from your experiment, and note which of your predictions for the experiment's results were true.
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Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.
How to Write a Conclusion for a Lab Report?
Many people lack writing experience in order to perform some written tasks. This especially applies to those who major in some sciences like chemistry, physics, biology or similar – they just have a different set of mind. The problem arises when these people attend a university. It is not a secret that a large number of academic papers are essential components of the educational process, which means that there is no way one can avoid writing papers for college. And even a bigger problem arises when a student has to perform such a complex task as a laboratory project, which requires not only in-depth comprehension of a specific topic and subject in general but also some good writing skills and experience. That’s when many students face issues.
Luckily, there are no things that a person couldn’t master with a bit of persistence, practice, time, and lots of motivation, which means that even if you have encounter problems with this task, there is still a way to handle it and we will tell you how! However, if you feel like you need someone to write my lab report , professional help is always available. You can hire a site that writes essays for you. They will help you with any coursework help you need. Read further to know how to master this by yourself. However, if you feel like you need someone to write my lab report, professional help is always available. You can hire a writer on the site that writes essays for you . They will help you with any coursework help you need. Read further to know how to master this by yourself.
What Is A Lab Report?
The purpose of a lab report is to describe in detail an entire experiment from start to finish. This involves writing out procedures, reporting results and analyzing your data. A lab report is a good indicator of your understanding of an experiment and what you have learned from it; therefore, it is highly important that it is performed to the highest standard. Here are some good examples.
Lab work conclusion is an indispensable part of a report: it restates the experiment’s main findings and provides the reader with an overview of the work you have done. Just like a good conclusion for a research paper by writing a strong conclusion to a lab project you will convey to the reader that you have the learned the objectives of your assignment and feel comfortable enough to repeat it, if necessary.
Lab Report Conclusion Outline
There are four easy steps to do. They will enable you to create a lab report conclusion outline. Go through your assignment once again and make sure that you have covered all the necessary parts of your experiment and documented them. This way you will be able to address them easily in your conclusion. If you haven’t already made a list of experiment objectives, do it at this stage.
Return to your introduction to make sure your conclusion of a lab report is consistent with it – it may also help you formulate what you are going to state there.
Having done that use the RERUN method. It should help you map out all the necessary elements of a conclusion. RERUN stands for:
- Restate (describe an assignment);
- Explain (explain your purpose and briefly describe a procedure);
- Results (explain and confirm whether the hypothesis was supported by them);
- Uncertainties (account for uncertainties and errors beyond control);
- New (questions or discoveries that emerged from your experiment).
Apart from using RERUN method, check if there is anything you have learned from the experiment? Relate the research to the subject and other concepts you have learned in class and make sure you have addressed all questions in your assignment. If you need any help with your thesis, you can hire someone to write my thesis . Our experts can help you with your academic writing needs. You can check out our service and buy a research proposal too. Some more information can be found here .
Lab Report Conclusion Example
There is not a single foolproof way of writing a conclusion in lab report. There are many approaches that can point you in the right direction. Feel free to use this lab report writing guide . Alternatively, take a look at this example of a lab report conclusion for the following experiment:
Experiment goal: To create the best environment for fish in the aquarium
The aim is to work out a relationship between the water’s temperature and the amount of oxygen dissolved in it (to find the optimal temperature to provide more oxygen for fish in the water). An experiment is set up. Ice and a hot plate are used to alter temperature of water. The amount of dissolved oxygen present in the sample of water is then measured (using a chemical set).
Hypothesis : Oxygen levels decrease as the temperature water is increased. Conclusion paragraph : The purpose of this experiment was to measure the effect of altering water temperature on the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. The graph shows such results. The coldest temperature water contained most oxygen in it – about 6.3 mg / L at 10°C; the warmest temperature water contained least oxygen in it – about 4.9 mg/L at 30°C. The trend seems to be linear – as the temperature is increased, the amount of available oxygen decreases. This data supports the original hypothesis. In this work, it was difficult to maintain a stable temperature long enough to test it accurately (the water rapidly warmed up as one went through the oxygen testing procedure). Perhaps future tests could be done more quickly to prevent temperature changes and minimize error. Future experiments could test for other factors that can affect oxygen levels in water. The assumption is that adding plants to the aquarium could affect oxygen levels (when they photosynthesize).
This above example is a basic high school trial. But pay heed to how all necessary information regarding the experiment is neatly presented. It is done in such a way that the reader gets a clear understanding of the concept even without reading the rest of the lab report and without being a scientist. This resource includes another sample lab report.
Just a few final tips left to share with you: write your paper in the third person, avoid using “I” or “we”. Once you have completed your work, read through it again checking for any inconsistencies. Make sure you don’t contradict yourself and your conclusion reiterates what you have learned from the experiment – show you understand your topic! On your final reading proofread your writing to avoid any grammatical or spelling errors that could lower your overall grade.
We hope all above information will help you produce your perfect paper. However, you can also use a professional lab report writing service which is guaranteed to get you a top grade in your discipline.
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How To Write A Lab Report | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples
Published on May 20, 2021 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on July 23, 2023.
A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment. The main purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method by performing and evaluating a hands-on lab experiment. This type of assignment is usually shorter than a research paper .
Lab reports are commonly used in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This article focuses on how to structure and write a lab report.
Table of contents
Structuring a lab report, introduction, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about lab reports.
The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but they usually contain the purpose, methods, and findings of a lab experiment .
Each section of a lab report has its own purpose.
- Title: expresses the topic of your study
- Abstract : summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
- Introduction: establishes the context needed to understand the topic
- Method: describes the materials and procedures used in the experiment
- Results: reports all descriptive and inferential statistical analyses
- Discussion: interprets and evaluates results and identifies limitations
- Conclusion: sums up the main findings of your experiment
- References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA )
- Appendices : contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures
Although most lab reports contain these sections, some sections can be omitted or combined with others. For example, some lab reports contain a brief section on research aims instead of an introduction, and a separate conclusion is not always required.
If you’re not sure, it’s best to check your lab report requirements with your instructor.
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Your title provides the first impression of your lab report – effective titles communicate the topic and/or the findings of your study in specific terms.
Create a title that directly conveys the main focus or purpose of your study. It doesn’t need to be creative or thought-provoking, but it should be informative.
- The effects of varying nitrogen levels on tomato plant height.
- Testing the universality of the McGurk effect.
- Comparing the viscosity of common liquids found in kitchens.
An abstract condenses a lab report into a brief overview of about 150–300 words. It should provide readers with a compact version of the research aims, the methods and materials used, the main results, and the final conclusion.
Think of it as a way of giving readers a preview of your full lab report. Write the abstract last, in the past tense, after you’ve drafted all the other sections of your report, so you’ll be able to succinctly summarize each section.
To write a lab report abstract, use these guiding questions:
- What is the wider context of your study?
- What research question were you trying to answer?
- How did you perform the experiment?
- What did your results show?
- How did you interpret your results?
- What is the importance of your findings?
Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for high quality plants. Tomatoes, one of the most consumed fruits worldwide, rely on nitrogen for healthy leaves and stems to grow fruit. This experiment tested whether nitrogen levels affected tomato plant height in a controlled setting. It was expected that higher levels of nitrogen fertilizer would yield taller tomato plants.
Levels of nitrogen fertilizer were varied between three groups of tomato plants. The control group did not receive any nitrogen fertilizer, while one experimental group received low levels of nitrogen fertilizer, and a second experimental group received high levels of nitrogen fertilizer. All plants were grown from seeds, and heights were measured 50 days into the experiment.
The effects of nitrogen levels on plant height were tested between groups using an ANOVA. The plants with the highest level of nitrogen fertilizer were the tallest, while the plants with low levels of nitrogen exceeded the control group plants in height. In line with expectations and previous findings, the effects of nitrogen levels on plant height were statistically significant. This study strengthens the importance of nitrogen for tomato plants.
Your lab report introduction should set the scene for your experiment. One way to write your introduction is with a funnel (an inverted triangle) structure:
- Start with the broad, general research topic
- Narrow your topic down your specific study focus
- End with a clear research question
Begin by providing background information on your research topic and explaining why it’s important in a broad real-world or theoretical context. Describe relevant previous research on your topic and note how your study may confirm it or expand it, or fill a gap in the research field.
This lab experiment builds on previous research from Haque, Paul, and Sarker (2011), who demonstrated that tomato plant yield increased at higher levels of nitrogen. However, the present research focuses on plant height as a growth indicator and uses a lab-controlled setting instead.
Next, go into detail on the theoretical basis for your study and describe any directly relevant laws or equations that you’ll be using. State your main research aims and expectations by outlining your hypotheses .
Based on the importance of nitrogen for tomato plants, the primary hypothesis was that the plants with the high levels of nitrogen would grow the tallest. The secondary hypothesis was that plants with low levels of nitrogen would grow taller than plants with no nitrogen.
Your introduction doesn’t need to be long, but you may need to organize it into a few paragraphs or with subheadings such as “Research Context” or “Research Aims.”
A lab report Method section details the steps you took to gather and analyze data. Give enough detail so that others can follow or evaluate your procedures. Write this section in the past tense. If you need to include any long lists of procedural steps or materials, place them in the Appendices section but refer to them in the text here.
You should describe your experimental design, your subjects, materials, and specific procedures used for data collection and analysis.
Briefly note whether your experiment is a within-subjects or between-subjects design, and describe how your sample units were assigned to conditions if relevant.
A between-subjects design with three groups of tomato plants was used. The control group did not receive any nitrogen fertilizer. The first experimental group received a low level of nitrogen fertilizer, while the second experimental group received a high level of nitrogen fertilizer.
Describe human subjects in terms of demographic characteristics, and animal or plant subjects in terms of genetic background. Note the total number of subjects as well as the number of subjects per condition or per group. You should also state how you recruited subjects for your study.
List the equipment or materials you used to gather data and state the model names for any specialized equipment.
List of materials
35 Tomato seeds
15 plant pots (15 cm tall)
Light lamps (50,000 lux)
Describe your experimental settings and conditions in detail. You can provide labelled diagrams or images of the exact set-up necessary for experimental equipment. State how extraneous variables were controlled through restriction or by fixing them at a certain level (e.g., keeping the lab at room temperature).
Light levels were fixed throughout the experiment, and the plants were exposed to 12 hours of light a day. Temperature was restricted to between 23 and 25℃. The pH and carbon levels of the soil were also held constant throughout the experiment as these variables could influence plant height. The plants were grown in rooms free of insects or other pests, and they were spaced out adequately.
Your experimental procedure should describe the exact steps you took to gather data in chronological order. You’ll need to provide enough information so that someone else can replicate your procedure, but you should also be concise. Place detailed information in the appendices where appropriate.
In a lab experiment, you’ll often closely follow a lab manual to gather data. Some instructors will allow you to simply reference the manual and state whether you changed any steps based on practical considerations. Other instructors may want you to rewrite the lab manual procedures as complete sentences in coherent paragraphs, while noting any changes to the steps that you applied in practice.
If you’re performing extensive data analysis, be sure to state your planned analysis methods as well. This includes the types of tests you’ll perform and any programs or software you’ll use for calculations (if relevant).
First, tomato seeds were sown in wooden flats containing soil about 2 cm below the surface. Each seed was kept 3-5 cm apart. The flats were covered to keep the soil moist until germination. The seedlings were removed and transplanted to pots 8 days later, with a maximum of 2 plants to a pot. Each pot was watered once a day to keep the soil moist.
The nitrogen fertilizer treatment was applied to the plant pots 12 days after transplantation. The control group received no treatment, while the first experimental group received a low concentration, and the second experimental group received a high concentration. There were 5 pots in each group, and each plant pot was labelled to indicate the group the plants belonged to.
50 days after the start of the experiment, plant height was measured for all plants. A measuring tape was used to record the length of the plant from ground level to the top of the tallest leaf.
In your results section, you should report the results of any statistical analysis procedures that you undertook. You should clearly state how the results of statistical tests support or refute your initial hypotheses.
The main results to report include:
- any descriptive statistics
- statistical test results
- the significance of the test results
- estimates of standard error or confidence intervals
The mean heights of the plants in the control group, low nitrogen group, and high nitrogen groups were 20.3, 25.1, and 29.6 cm respectively. A one-way ANOVA was applied to calculate the effect of nitrogen fertilizer level on plant height. The results demonstrated statistically significant ( p = .03) height differences between groups.
Next, post-hoc tests were performed to assess the primary and secondary hypotheses. In support of the primary hypothesis, the high nitrogen group plants were significantly taller than the low nitrogen group and the control group plants. Similarly, the results supported the secondary hypothesis: the low nitrogen plants were taller than the control group plants.
These results can be reported in the text or in tables and figures. Use text for highlighting a few key results, but present large sets of numbers in tables, or show relationships between variables with graphs.
You should also include sample calculations in the Results section for complex experiments. For each sample calculation, provide a brief description of what it does and use clear symbols. Present your raw data in the Appendices section and refer to it to highlight any outliers or trends.
The Discussion section will help demonstrate your understanding of the experimental process and your critical thinking skills.
In this section, you can:
- Interpret your results
- Compare your findings with your expectations
- Identify any sources of experimental error
- Explain any unexpected results
- Suggest possible improvements for further studies
Interpreting your results involves clarifying how your results help you answer your main research question. Report whether your results support your hypotheses.
- Did you measure what you sought out to measure?
- Were your analysis procedures appropriate for this type of data?
Compare your findings with other research and explain any key differences in findings.
- Are your results in line with those from previous studies or your classmates’ results? Why or why not?
An effective Discussion section will also highlight the strengths and limitations of a study.
- Did you have high internal validity or reliability?
- How did you establish these aspects of your study?
When describing limitations, use specific examples. For example, if random error contributed substantially to the measurements in your study, state the particular sources of error (e.g., imprecise apparatus) and explain ways to improve them.
The results support the hypothesis that nitrogen levels affect plant height, with increasing levels producing taller plants. These statistically significant results are taken together with previous research to support the importance of nitrogen as a nutrient for tomato plant growth.
However, unlike previous studies, this study focused on plant height as an indicator of plant growth in the present experiment. Importantly, plant height may not always reflect plant health or fruit yield, so measuring other indicators would have strengthened the study findings.
Another limitation of the study is the plant height measurement technique, as the measuring tape was not suitable for plants with extreme curvature. Future studies may focus on measuring plant height in different ways.
The main strengths of this study were the controls for extraneous variables, such as pH and carbon levels of the soil. All other factors that could affect plant height were tightly controlled to isolate the effects of nitrogen levels, resulting in high internal validity for this study.
Your conclusion should be the final section of your lab report. Here, you’ll summarize the findings of your experiment, with a brief overview of the strengths and limitations, and implications of your study for further research.
Some lab reports may omit a Conclusion section because it overlaps with the Discussion section, but you should check with your instructor before doing so.
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A lab report conveys the aim, methods, results, and conclusions of a scientific experiment . Lab reports are commonly assigned in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The purpose of a lab report is to demonstrate your understanding of the scientific method with a hands-on lab experiment. Course instructors will often provide you with an experimental design and procedure. Your task is to write up how you actually performed the experiment and evaluate the outcome.
In contrast, a research paper requires you to independently develop an original argument. It involves more in-depth research and interpretation of sources and data.
A lab report is usually shorter than a research paper.
The sections of a lab report can vary between scientific fields and course requirements, but it usually contains the following:
- Abstract: summarizes your research aims, methods, results, and conclusions
- References: list of all sources cited using a specific style (e.g. APA)
- Appendices: contains lengthy materials, procedures, tables or figures
The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.
In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.
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Lab Report Writing
- Lab Report Style
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Discussion or Conclusion
Test yourself (discussion).
Once you've discussed the most important findings of your study in the Results section, you will use the Discussion section to interpret those findings and talk about why they are important (some instructors call this the Conclusion section). You might want to talk about how your results agree, or disagree, with the results from similar studies. Here you can also mention areas ways you could have improved your study or further research to be done on the topic. Do not just restate your results - talk about why they are significant and important. Here's a paragraph taken from the Discussion from the bone fracture paper. Notice how the authors relate their results to what is already known about the topic. The numbers in brackets refer to references listed at the end of their paper (not shown here).
The data indicate that avoiding a low level of physical activity substantially reduces the risk of all fractures, particularly hip fractures—the most devastating of osteoporotic fractures—in men. Even changes in physical activity during the follow-up affected hip fracture risk. As expected, those who maintained a high physical activity level had the lowest risk of hip fracture, but there was also a tendency towards a lower risk of fracture for those who increased their level of activity compared with those who reduced their level of activity, or compared with those who reported constant low activity. This observation has previously been made in women [8,16]. There are several possible mechanisms, related to muscle performance and balance as well as to bone architecture and strength, whereby physical activity can reduce the risk of fractures [28,29].
Which of the following is a good example of a sentence you would find in the Discussion section of a lab report?
a. Ten dogs with no previous training were selected for the study. b. Unlike in previous studies on dog training, most of the dogs in this study retained the ability to perform tricks for up to six weeks after the initial training sessions. c. Seven of the ten dogs learned how to "sit" after three training sessions. d. It was hypothesized that the dogs would be able to retain all of the training commands for six weeks after the initial training sessions.
B The Discussion should interpret the findings from the study and relate them to other similar studies. It is not the place to talk about the results, the methods use, or the original hypothesis.
Click on the question, to see the answer.
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How to Write a Good Conclusion For a Lab Report
- August 15, 2023
- Blogs , General
Crafting a compelling conclusion for your lab report involves distilling the experiment’s essence without introducing novel concepts. Unlike other academic compositions, brevity is key. As you master this art, emphasize the experiment’s primary intent and assess the degree of goal accomplishment.
Regarding length, typical assignments demand a concise 200-300-word paragraph, encapsulating pivotal summaries and succinct dialogues. Occasionally, reports might extend to 500 words, but maintaining conciseness is crucial, unless for analytical or explanatory purposes. Remember, novelty isn’t the aim here; it’s a recapitulation.
A well-crafted conclusion reinforces the experiment’s purpose and verifies objective attainment. This section should highlight the experiment’s relevance, summarize key findings, and establish their implications. Avoid introducing unexplored territories, and sticking to known data. Conclude by acknowledging achieved objectives and their significance in advancing understanding. In closing, your lab report conclusion bridges the experiment with its purpose, aligning your readers with the study’s journey and outcomes.
Elements of a Good Lab Report Conclusion
Stated below are the key elements of a proper conclusion for a lab report:
1. Reminder of Objectives and Research Purpose
In crafting an impactful conclusion for a lab report , it’s essential to begin by revisiting the objectives outlined in the experiment. Remind readers of the initial goals that guided your research. This concise recap serves as a compass, steering them back to the focal points you aimed to address. A well-crafted reminder in this section lays the foundation for understanding the significance of your findings.
2. Recap of Methods and Achievements
In this succinct segment, briefly outline the methodologies employed in the experiment and highlight the outcomes you’ve attained. Avoid delving into exhaustive details; instead, offer a clear snapshot of the techniques and procedures employed to reach the obtained results. This component of your conclusion succinctly bridges the gap between your research design and its tangible outcomes.
3. Key Findings and Outcomes
Distil the core findings from your experiment into this section. Present the crucial discoveries and results that emerged from your research efforts. By encapsulating the essential takeaways, you offer readers a concise overview of the knowledge gained through your investigation. This element serves as a critical junction where your conclusions crystallize, encapsulating the essence of your experiment’s contributions.
4. Analytical Remark or Addressing Limitations
The final section of your conclusion can take one of two routes. For a closing analytical remark, briefly delve into the broader implications of your findings. Touch on how your results fit into the existing body of knowledge or suggest potential avenues for further exploration. Alternatively, if applicable, candidly discuss limitations encountered during the experiment. Addressing constraints not only demonstrates transparency but also acknowledges the complexity inherent in scientific inquiry.
As a complementary touch, consider including a recommended reading list that aligns with your experiment’s subject matter. This offers readers the opportunity to deepen their understanding and explore related literature independently. Remember, while your conclusion should highlight findings, it should refrain from proposing solutions. Instead, it acts as a summative reflection on the experiment’s objectives, methods, findings, and potential implications.
By adhering to these distinct elements within your lab report conclusion, you can create a well-structured, insightful, and informative wrap-up that resonates with your readers, effectively conveying the significance and outcomes of your research.
A Guide on How to Write A Lab Conclusion
Writing a lab conclusion is an important skill for any science student. A lab conclusion summarizes the main findings and implications of an experiment and provides recommendations for future research. In this guide, we will explain how to write a lab conclusion using the following elements:
The purpose of the lab conclusion is to restate the main question or problem that the experiment aimed to address and to briefly summarize how the experiment answered or solved it.
The purpose of this experiment was to test the effect of different concentrations of salt on the growth of bean plants. The results showed that increasing the salt concentration reduced the plant height, leaf area, and dry mass.
The methods section of the lab conclusion provides a brief overview of the experimental design and procedures that were used to collect and analyze the data.
The experiment was conducted using a randomized block design with four treatments: 0%, 0.5%, 1%, and 2% salt solutions. Each treatment was replicated three times, and each replicate consisted of five bean plants grown in pots. The plants were watered with the assigned salt solution every two days for four weeks. The plant height, leaf area, and dry mass were measured at the end of the experiment.
The results section of the lab conclusion presents the main findings of the data analysis, using tables, graphs, or statistics as appropriate.
The results indicated that there was a significant effect of salt concentration on the plant growth parameters.
The discussion section of the lab conclusion interprets the results concerning the research question or problem and explains the underlying mechanisms or causes of the observed effects.
The discussion section should also compare and contrast the results with previous studies or literature, and identify any limitations or sources of error in the experiment.
The results of this experiment are consistent with previous studies that have reported negative effects of salt stress on plant growth (Smith et al., 2010; Jones et al., 2012). One possible explanation for these effects is that high salt concentrations reduce the water potential in the soil, making it harder for the plants to absorb water and nutrients (Zhang et al., 2014). Another possible explanation is that high salt concentrations cause osmotic stress and ion toxicity in plant cells, affecting their metabolism and photosynthesis (Liu et al., 2016).
One limitation of this experiment is that it only tested four levels of salt concentration, which may not reflect the range of conditions that plants encounter in natural or agricultural environments. Another limitation is that it only measured three parameters of plant growth, which may not capture all aspects of plant health or productivity.
The conclusion section of the lab conclusion provides a concise summary of the main findings and implications of the experiment and suggests directions for future research or applications. For example:
In conclusion, this experiment demonstrated that increasing salt concentration had a negative effect on the growth of bean plants, reducing their height, leaf area, and dry mass. This suggests that bean plants are sensitive to salt stress, and may not be suitable for cultivation in saline soils or irrigation with saline water. Future research could explore ways to improve the salt tolerance of bean plants, such as breeding, genetic engineering, or agronomic practices.
What to Include in a Conclusion for a Lab Report
A conclusion is a section of a lab report that summarizes the main findings and implications of the experiment. It is usually the last part of the report, and it should answer the following questions:
- What was the purpose of the experiment?
- What were the main results and how do they compare to the expected or predicted outcomes?
- What were the sources of error and uncertainty and how did they affect the results?
- What are the limitations of the experiment and how could they be improved in future studies?
- What are the broader implications or applications of the experiment for the field of study or society?
A conclusion should be concise, clear and logical. It should not introduce new information or repeat details that have already been discussed in the introduction or methods sections. It should also not include personal opinions or subjective interpretations of the results. A conclusion should be based on facts and evidence from the experiment.
A good conclusion should follow this general structure:
- Restate the main objective or question of the experiment in one sentence.
- Summarize the main results and explain how they relate to the objective or question.
- Discuss the sources of error and uncertainty and how they affected the results. If possible, quantify the error or uncertainty using statistics or calculations.
- Identify the limitations of the experiment and suggest ways to improve them in future studies.
- Explain the significance or relevance of the experiment for the field of study or society. If applicable, provide recommendations or suggestions for further research or action.
Examples of a Conclusion of a Lab Report
Here is an example of a conclusion for a lab report on measuring the acceleration due to gravity using a pendulum:
Example 1: A conclusion of a lab report on measuring the acceleration due to gravity using a pendulum:
The purpose of this experiment was to measure the acceleration due to gravity (g) using a simple pendulum. The experimental value of g was found to be 9.81 ± 0.02 m/s^2, which is consistent with the accepted value of 9.81 m/s^2. The main sources of error and uncertainty were human reaction time, air resistance, friction and measurement errors. These errors could be reduced by using a digital timer, a vacuum chamber, a smoother pivot and more precise measuring instruments. The experiment demonstrated the basic principles of pendulum motion and its application to determine g. The experiment also showed how to use experimental data to calculate g using mathematical formulas and how to estimate the uncertainty of g using error propagation. The experiment could be extended by varying the length, mass or amplitude of the pendulum and observing how they affect g.
Example 2: Conclusion of a Lab Report on Enzyme Activity
The purpose of this lab was to investigate the effect of temperature on the rate of enzyme activity. The hypothesis was that the rate of enzyme activity would increase as the temperature increased, until a certain point where the enzyme would denature and lose its function. The results supported the hypothesis, as the enzyme activity increased from 10°C to 40°C, and then decreased sharply at 60°C. The optimal temperature for the enzyme was 40°C, where it had the highest rate of activity. This lab demonstrated that temperature is an important factor that affects enzyme activity and that enzymes have a specific range of temperatures where they function best.
Example 3: Conclusion of a Lab Report on Osmosis
This lab aimed to observe the process of osmosis in plant cells and to determine the solute concentration of potato cells. The hypothesis was that the potato cells would lose water and mass in solutions with higher solute concentrations than their own, and gain water and mass in solutions with lower solute concentrations than their own. The results confirmed the hypothesis, as the potato cells lost mass in solutions with higher solute concentrations (0.4 M and 0.6 M sucrose) and gained mass in solutions with lower solute concentrations (0.0 M and 0.2 M sucrose). The solute concentration of potato cells was estimated to be around 0.3 M, as the potato cells did not change mass in this solution. This lab showed how osmosis occurs in plant cells and how it affects their mass and water potential.
Example 4: Conclusion of a Lab Report on Acid-Base Titration
The objective of this lab was to determine the concentration of an unknown acid solution using a standard base solution and a pH meter. The hypothesis was that the concentration of the unknown acid solution could be calculated by using the formula M_a V_a = M_b V_b, where M_a and M_b are the molarities of the acid and base solutions, and V_a and V_b are the volumes of the acid and base solutions used in the titration. The results verified the hypothesis, as the concentration of the unknown acid solution was found to be 0.102 M, by using the average volume of base solution (25.3 mL) and the known molarity of base solution (0.100 M). This lab illustrated how acid-base titration can be used to measure the concentration of an unknown solution using a known solution and a pH meter.
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