How to Write Your First College Lab ReportEric Merlin
Once you enter your Bachelor’s in Science program, you learn the expanse of excitement that comes with practical work. Till high school, every student has to work under strict supervision from a bossy lab teacher. During your years in college, you get to know what lab experiments really are.
Studying advanced levels of natural sciences gives way to exploding curiosity. This helps you to freely experiment and observe on the basis of your own ideas when you get into college. Your experimentation helps you build your portfolio and increases the insight of your discipline.
Whether you wish to teach or research or work for institutes, lab work and paper writing are detrimental to your future.
Naturally, a college lab report should also have more details and complexities than a school lab report. You need better observation skills, and you need better ways to present your findings. Here’s how you can kill it on your first-ever college lab report:
To make your college report look professional and authentic, you should be prepared beforehand. While studying your theoretical units, you should pay attention to what you’re learning.
Using the study material from your theory classes, you can focus on a research area for your practical task. The blend of theories and your practical objectives will make your lab report more knowledgeable and credible.
Planning the Framework
Next, you should decide the framework of your research. What is your experiment? How should you present your findings in a way that is legible and comprehensive? What facts should you present in a manner that makes your report trustable? What type of report are you really writing?
Based on the type of observations, research, and findings, you should plan the ideal way to present your lab report. To put it another way, this is your first draft after you’ve recorded your findings from an experiment.
Formatting the Report
After you have a rough draft of the initial recordings, you need to format the research. Figure out what you need to present in the report and how to present it. Is a flow chart the perfect way to describe your experiment? Or would mind-map work better? Perhaps you want the regular descriptive format?
Guessing from the amount of data you have gathered, you can decide a format for the final report. If you’ve performed a brief experiment that doesn’t require too much explanation, a flow chart or a mind-map would suffice. For more detailed and long experiments, you can try descriptive essays. Sometimes, you can also try multiple formats within a single lab report.
The Writing Phase
After preparing a format, you can start writing your report. Usually, a college lab report includes the following parts:
The title of a lab report should sum up your purpose of experimenting. Keep the title as brief as possible. This the first part of your report. You can settle on a title after you’ve finished the drafting and formatting phases. It includes your year and course title and the experiment number as well.
An abstract is around 200-300 words long. It defines the problem, experiment, equipment, findings, discussions, and solutions in the briefest form possible. In the final version of a lab report, an abstract is included at the top, just after the title.
But it’s initially written at the very end of the writing process. This is because after writing the whole lab report, it’s easier for you to summarize everything and leave out extra details. You may not need an abstract for shorter lab reports.
An introduction is a theoretical part of the report. It includes previous stats and existing conditions of the problem or subject you are experimenting on. The introductory part also includes historical context and a briefing of prior research. Basically, this part explains the problem at hand and your objective or aim of performing the lab.
The method accounts for the way you planned the experiment. It also includes the changes you made in case of any dead ends of unsolvable issues. The method includes the theorems, laws, and equations you used to build a step-by-step plan of the lab experiment. It also contains the material and equipment you used for your work.
The experimental set-up describes all the technical details of your experiment. Which equipment did you use? How did you set and connect the apparatus? What are your least counts? What were your initial readings? What are the specifications of the material (or matter) you are experimenting on?
How do you minimize human, instrumental, or systematic errors? What are the temperature, pressure readings? This helps others in carrying on the chain of similar experiments.
The procedure includes the step-by-step working of your experiment. The number of times you perform, the readings you discard, the trial-and-errors you face, etc.
Present results using bar graphs, line graphs, pie-charts, tables, and other visuals. These are the numerical or factual findings of your experiment.
A discussion consists of your opinion, findings, and hypothesis. It also mainly includes possible proposals and recommendations regarding the problem, as well as their reasoning.
A conclusion summarizes your problems, findings, and solutions of the experiment.
References include the sources for previous data and hypotheses. It includes authors, books, research papers, journals, and former experiments.
The appendices are a brief explanation of all the detailed raw data that was a part of your observations. Each appendix has a number and an alphabet, similar to the references.
Writing a lab report isn’t an easy task, and we know that. That’s why this paper was written to help all the lab newbies out there.
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