23Apr

How to Write a Lab Report with Tips, Outline and a Sample

The purpose of lab reports

Lab reports are key requirements to successfully completing your laboratory courses because they form part of your grading. In engineering and sciences, lab reports count for more than 25% of the course. The main purpose of a lab report is to document the findings of the scientific study and communicate their significance. Having the appropriate skills for writing a lab report goes a long way in preparing the student for writing scientific journal articles. A good lab report should thus demonstrate one's understanding of the concepts behind the findings. One should be in a position to understand the scientific principles of study and how the experiment proved or disapprove them. At the same time, they should organize their ideas in a logical manner for easy understanding by the audience.

The components of a lab Report


The Title page

The title page should determine the purpose of the experiment. However, not all lab reports require title pages. This is why it is important to consult with the instructor for clarification. Nonetheless. The title page should contain the following:

  1. The title of the study
  2. The name of the author or authors
  3. The name of the instructor
  4. The date of report submission or experiment

Abstract

The abstract is an overview or a comprehensive summary of the study report. It should provide clear information about the experiment including the reason and the conclusions reached. It is advisable that one is brief and concise when writing the abstract. No additional information should be added in the abstract section. An abstract should contain about 200-300 words and cover the following:

  1. A sentence summary of the reason for the experiment
  2. A short description of the setting and participants such as who, where, when and what groups.
  3. A brief description of the method used including; the experimental treatment, the design, the tests, and questionnaires.
  4. A brief description of the major findings or the outcome of the experiment
  5. Conclude with the contribution of the study to knowledge as well as the implications of the findings.

Introduction

The introduction of a lab report is aimed at explaining the rationale behind the study or experiment and is thus more narrowly focused than abstract. It should adopt a funnel structure of information flow starting from broad concepts such as the previous studies and background information to specific details such as your prediction and hypothesis. It should contain the following:

  1. Start by highlighting the broader topic in the form of concrete background information for your study. You should give appropriate citations for the information from credible sources such as textbooks or lab manuals.
  2. Explain the theoretical framework,
  3. Give a summary of previous studies focusing on information such as their purpose, the participants, their findings, the interpretation of their results, and their relationships with the theoretical framework mentioned above.
  4. Provide rationale for your study explaining how it addresses the gap in literature or overcomes the limitations of the previous studies.
  5. End with the hypothesis and aims of your study explaining clearly what you intend to study and the expected results. Your prediction of the results can be in the form of an IF THEN statement or a comparison.

For example:

IF THEN statement

If grasshoppers prefer green leaves to yellow leaves THEN plants with green leaves will be fed upon more than those with yellow leaves

Comparison statement

We predict that grasshoppers will feed more on green-leaf plants than on yellow-leaf plants.

Method

The method section contains a description of the procedure followed in conducting the experiment. It consists of:

  1. The setup of the equipment and apparatus explained using a diagram
  2. The materials used in the experiment
  3. Steps for data collection
  4. The difficulties and how they were resolved

Materials

This section provides a detailed description of the set-up of the experiment using image showing the features of the materials


Procedure

Provide sufficient details of the precise procedure used in the experiment in a way that can be replicated. It is advisable that you describe your procedure under an assumption that the reader has no basic knowledge of the experiment and with the aim of enabling them to replicate it. At this point, one should not try to justify the method by explaining why a particular method was selected but focus on enabling someone to replicate the process. The description of the procedure should contain information such as how the experiment was conducted, length of the study, what was measured, the sample size and the statistical test used. It is recommended that you use past tense in reporting the procedure.


Results

The results section presents the study findings in the form of descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Give the overall patterns and trends discovered in the study while focusing only on the useful ones. Before presenting the tabular data or figures, it is recommended that you give an introductory paragraph to the results section to walk the reader through the data. The following recommendations should be considered when presenting your findings:

  1. Include figure legends describing the sample subjects and sample size
  2. All data should be included in the figures
  3. Arrange all the figures or text in order
  4. Label the graph axes with units of measurements

Discussion section

This is the most important part of your study report where you outline the findings and relate them to the hypothesis. You should explain how the findings support or oppose the hypothesis by comparing them to the background information provided in the introduction section to determine their similarity or difference. You should then discuss the reason for the difference or similarity. The discussion section should also explain the confidence in the results. Explain the limitations of the results if there is any. The following process should be followed to write an excellent discussion:

  1. Start this section by restating the background statement, the question of the study, hypothesis, and prediction as described in the introduction.
  2. Consequently, compare the study results with other studies giving citations.
  3. Identify possible sources of errors that may influence the results.
  4. Suggest ways that the study could be improved for better findings
  5. Explain the implication of the findings to literature and in the real world
  6. Suggests possibilities for further research triggered by your research such as something related to your study or an improvement.
  7. End with a concluding paragraph restating the key findings and discussion such as the interpretations and implications.

Sample of A Lab Report

 

 

Lab Assignment


1. Measurements

Conversion of standard to metric measurements together with their daily examples.

a)Conversion of length from miles (mi) to kilometers (km). 1 mi = 1.6 km. Example, the distance between New York and Washington DC is 227.1 mi, or 363.36 km.

b)Considering temperature, Fahrenheit (F) correlates to Celsius (C) using the following relationship. 10°C = (32 + 10*1.8) = 50°F. For example, human temperature is 37°C or 98.6°F.

c)In weight measurement, a pound (lb.) relates with kilogram (kg) using the mathematical formula, 1 lb. = 0.4535 kg. Thus, a person weighing 193 pounds has 87.54 kilograms.

d)The conversion of volume from gallons (gal) to liters (l). 1 gal = 3.785 liters. Example, many cars have a fuel capacity of 12 gallons.

e)Length measurement can use inches (in) or centimeters (cm). Their conversion is performed using the formula: 1 in = 2.54 cm.

These conversions are shown in  REF _Ref526787837 \h Table 1 08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000080000000E0000005F005200650066003500320036003700380037003800330037000000 below.

Table SEQ Table \* ARABIC 1: Conversion from standard to metric units of measurements

Type

Standard

Metric

Conversion

Length

Mile

Kilometer

1 mi = 1.6 km

Length

Inch

Centimeter

1 in = 2.54 cm

Volume

Gallon

Liter

1 l = 3.785 gal

Weight

Pounds

Kilogram

1 lb. = 0.4535

Temperature

Fahrenheit

Celsius

32°F = 0°C

 

The table below shows my weight on Earth, Venus, and Jupiter in pounds and in kilograms.

Unit

Earth

Venus

Jupiter

Pounds

214

193.5

540.8

Kilograms

97

87.7

245.3

 

Earth’s gravity on the equator is 9.773m/second squared, and on the North Pole it is 9.81m/sec2. The centrifugal forces due to the spinning of the earth is higher at the equator, and therefore, it slightly cancels out the weight of an object. Furthermore, the poles are closer to the center of the earth causing objects to have higher weights.

2. Scientific Notation

a)The distance from the Andromeda galaxy is 2.537 million light years away. One light year is approximately 9,461,000,000,000 kilometers. Therefore, the distance between Andromeda and Earth is 2,537,000 * 9,461,000,000,000 = 2.40 * 101919 km

b)The length of a lepton, muon and a tachyon is approximately 1.777 *10-15 m

c)Comparing their masses, an electron is approximately nine times smaller than a quark.

d)The furthest object identified by the Hubble telescope is a star named Icarus, and it is estimated to be nine billion light years away.


3. Chemical Balancing

An example of a chemical equation involving four different elements is the reaction between sulphuric acid, and sodium hydroxide. The equation is:

H2S04 (aq) + NaOH (aq)  SHAPE  \* MERGEFORMAT Na2SO4 (aq) + H2O(l)

Looking at its left and right hand sides, the atoms are not balanced. For instance, there are two moles of sodium on the right and only one on the left. To balance them, a two is introduced before sodium hydroxide. Consequently, this doubles the number of hydrogen atoms on the left. To balance the equation, a two is also introduced to the water on the right. The balanced equation then becomes:

H2S04 (aq) + 2 NaOH (aq)  SHAPE  \* MERGEFORMAT Na2SO4 (aq) + 2 H2O(l)


4. Experiments/Outcomes

Description of Experiment

Experiment designed to determine the effect of air pressure on the boiling point of water. The hypothesis getting tested here is that an increase in pressure leads to a rise in the boiling point of water. The requirements are a thermometer, source of heat, compressed air, a container with an air-tight lid, and water. Here, the independent variable is the pressure in the container, while the independent one is the boiling point.


Procedure

The first part involves boiling water in an open container, and then measuring and recording the temperature at which it boils. Then the container is half-filled with water. The remaining volume is filled with compressed air, and then the container closed with its air-tight lid. Then the water gets boiled to find its boiling point which is recorded.


Results

When this experiment gets performed accurately, the results will show that the boiling point of the water in the second case was higher than the initial part confirming the hypothesis.

 

5. Water Quality

From research on the water supplied to Killeen, TX, it was found out that its quality is high, and it is clean. The supplier uses purification processes which reduce these contaminants to the levels proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

6. Biological Sample

To achieve a random population sample on a square hectare lake, the process needs to be designed appropriately. Initially, the area will get divided into a grid which has sections with equal length. For example, the gridlines could be 10 meters apart. Then the grids need to get numbered. Then the sampler will select numbers randomly which will represent the areas. When a grid gets selected, its population will then get studied.


7. Nuclear Decay

Nuclear decay refers to the process by which an unstable nucleus of an atom loses energy, and particles to gain stability. Below are four types of this process.


1. Alpha Decay

This decay leads to the breaking down of an atom which loses two neutrons and protons respectively, forming an element which is two positions behind it on the periodic table. An isotope which normally undergoes this process is the Uranium-238 atom. Due to its large size, it experiences high levels of instability, which leads to its decay.


2. Beta Negative Decay

In this process, an atom releases an electron from its nucleus, and a neutron changes to a proton leading to an increase of the atomic number of the atom. The ejected electron leaves the atom as a beta particle. The decay leads to the formation of an atom having a more stable ratio of protons to neutrons. This process gets seen in the breakdown of carbon-14 to nitrogen 14 atoms which have the same atomic mass, but different numbers.


3. Gamma Decay

This decay leads to the production of high levels of energy, also known as gamma particles, during a radiation process. An example of an isotope which goes through this process is the Uranium-238 when it breaks down to form helium and thorium atoms, and the gamma particles.


4. Positron Emission

In this decay, an isotope produces a positron which is a particle having a positive charge, and no mass. It leads to the reduction of the number of the protons in the nucleus, and the formation of a neutron, causing the atom to have an atomic number which is less than the previous by one. This process gets shown by the magnesium-23 isotope which decays to form the sodium-23 atom. It is caused by a high proton to neutron ratio in the nucleus.

  

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275 words/pages.