Elements of a typical laboratory report

Purdue students explain strategies for dividing the workload for writing a lab report.

Here are two examples of a lab report - Santa Monica College

This handout provides a general guide to writing reports about scientific research you’ve performed. In addition to describing the conventional rules about the format and content of a lab report, we’ll also attempt to convey why these rules exist, so you’ll get a clearer, more dependable idea of how to approach this writing situation. Readers of this handout may also find our handout on writing in the useful.

Below is a sample lab report assignment from a UW-Madison bacteriology course.

Sample Lab Report #2 - Pennsylvania State University

A good lab report does more than present data; it demonstrates the writer's comprehension of the concepts behind the data. Merely recording the expected and observed results is not sufficient; you should also identify how and why differences occurred, explain how they affected your experiment, and show your understanding of the principles the experiment was designed to examine. Bear in mind that a format, however helpful, cannot replace clear thinking and organized writing. You still need to organize your ideas carefully and express them coherently.

The following is the most commonly used template/structure in a lab report.

Despite the differences in format and presentation, all laboratory reports must contain certain elements as mandated by federal legislation known as the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). (CLIA '88 REGULATIONS, Section 493.1291; for more on regulation of laboratories, see .) Your lab report may look very different than the , but it will contain each of the elements required by CLIA. It may also contain additional items not specifically required but which the lab chooses to include to aid in the timely reporting, delivery, and interpretation of your results.

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is intended as a guide to writing your lab report. lists the sections of a formal lab report and shows various elements which need to appear in each section.The main purpose of writing a lab report, of course, is not to contribute to the knowledge of the field; but to provide you the opportunity for learning.Ý That's why it's important to begin the lab by establishing that learning context.Ý The learning context provides a way for you to situate the lab report within the overall purpose for doing the lab in the first place:Ý to learn something about the science of the course you are taking.So should anyone else reading your notebook, for that matter. That way, if you make some amazing discovery, like blue aspirin is better than white aspirin (btw: don't eat anything in, from, or created in lab to see if this is right), you will have a permanent record of it to remind you of your greatness. There are three basic parts to a lab report: , , and . In this document, I've written some helpful tips that might help you through your lab-report woes. I won't include everything you have to do (you should look on for the report guidelines), but just a few key ideas.This template provides a clean structured format for writing a report based on a laboratory experiment. The structure follows the typical flow of information required in a laboratory report: the objective of the experiment, methods, data gathered, results and discussion. This template would best suit an student’s write-up of an experiment at a university or school.Make your lab report easy to follow. Show how you get from one statement tothe next. If a value is particularly important, put a box around it. Don'tgo overboard! We're not looking for reams of paper here; in fact, theshortest reports are often the best reports. Just make sure that someonewho hasn't done the lab can understand what you did and how you did it.The "Introduction" of a laboratory report identifies the experiment to be undertaken, the objectives of the experiment, the importance of the experiment, and overall background for understanding the experiment. The objectives of the experiment are important to state because these objectives are usually analyzed in the conclusion to determine whether the experiment succeeded. The background often includes theoretical predictions for what the results should be. (See a .") You should not assume, though, that this organization will serve all your laboratory reports. In other words, one organization does not "fit" all experiments. Rather, you should pay attention to the organization requested by your instructor who has chosen an organization that best serves your experiments. In a laboratory report, appendices often are included. One type of appendix that appears in laboratory reports presents information that is too detailed to be placed into the report's text. For example, if you had a long table giving voltage-current measurements for an RLC circuit, you might place this tabular information in an appendix and include a graph of the data in the report's text. Another type of appendix that often appears in laboratory reports presents tangential information that does not directly concern the experiment's objectives. The heart of a laboratory report is the presentation of the results and the discussion of those results. In some formats, "Results" and "Discussion" appear as separate sections. However, P.B. Medawar [1979] makes a strong case that the two should appear together, particularly when you have many results to present (otherwise, the audience is faced with a "dump" of information that is impossible to synthesize). Much here depends upon your experiment and the purpose of your laboratory report. Therefore, pay attention to what your laboratory instructor requests. Also, use your judgment. For instance, combine these sections when the discussion of your first result is needed to understand your second result, but separate these sections when it is useful to discuss the results as a whole after all results are reported.Once you receive or access your report from the laboratory, it may not be easy for you to read or understand, leaving you with more questions than answers. This article points out some of the different sections that may be found on a typical lab report and explains some of the information that may be found in those sections.