Why is lab report writing an important skill for students to master?
A lab report is a scaled-down version of an academic paper. By developing your lab report writing skills at university you'll be well-equipped to succeed as a professional scientist and engineer.
What's the most common mistake students make in this area?
The most common mistake is not demonstrating an understanding of previous research and how it relates to your experiments.
What top tip would you give to students wanting to improve their lab reports?
Look at model lab reports in your subject area to ensure you understand structure and content requirements before you start writing.
It is important to recognize that each part of a lab report is important, so take the time to complete each carefully. A lab report is broken down into eight sections:
The title of the lab report should be descriptive of the experiment and reflect what the experiment analyzed.
Abstracts are a summary of the experiment as a whole and should familiarize the reader with the purpose of the research.
The introduction of a lab report discusses the problem being studied and other theory that is relevant to understanding the findings.
The methods and materials
This section provides an overview of any equipment, apparatus, or other substances used in the experiment, as well as the steps taken during the experiment.
The results show the data that was collected or found during the experiment.
The discussion section is one of the most important parts of the lab report. It analyzes the results of the experiment and is a discussion of the data.
The conclusion is a summation of the experiment. It should clearly and concisely state what was learned and its importance.
If using any outside sources to support a claim or explain background information, those sources must be cited in the references section of the lab report. In the event that no outside sources are used, the references section may be left out.
Write Your Lab Report tips from Diana Hopkins and Tom Reid
Writing Lab Reports