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The Steps of Writing Science Lab Reports

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Transcript of The Steps of Writing Science Lab Reports

Let's take a look at some of the steps required for writing a science lab report. The Lab The Introduction The Methods and Materials The Results The Discussion The introduction presents the hypothesis or question the experiment will answer and the purpose of the experiment. What is the purpose? The key to writing effective lab reports is to thoroughly understand the purpose of the experiment and complete the experiment with accuracy. Each of these steps will provide you with resources for writing the lab report. Understand the scientific concepts on which the lab experiment is based. FIRST: Even more, you should be able to explain how the lab experiment relates to the scientific concepts. This also means you should understand all of the vocabulary involved in the procedures of the experiment. What are we going to do in this lab? (That is, what’s the procedure?)

Why are we going to do it that way?

What are we hoping to learn from this experiment?

Why would we benefit from this knowledge? You will want to discuss and answer these four questions: If there is not a chart in the lab manual to capture the data, draw the best type of chart or table in your notebook before you begin the experiment. Second: Before the lab, read the lab manual and familiarize yourself with it. Visualize each step.

Review each step of the experiment with your lab partner immediately before beginning the experiment During the lab, immediately record results and observations in your lab notebook. What have you learned from the experiment?

What do the results mean?

What new questions do you have based on these results?

Write these ideas down before leaving the lab. You will use this information as you write the lab report. Immediately after the experiment, discuss the results with classmates. Now, let's move on to the next step . . . These are the basic sections of a lab report, but your instructor may want you to omit or add sections. Also, your instructor may request only some of the items described for each component. When choosing between this guide and
an instructor's wishes, write according to the instructor's wishes. If you designed the experiment, the introduction should explain the rationale for your experimental design.

If you are replicating an experiment, the introduction should explain how the experiment relates to the key concepts you are currently studying. What is the approach? Unless your professor tells you to write a 'Background' or 'Theory' section, a basic explanation of those key concepts
and any formulas you use (along with an explanation of the variables and units in those formulas) should be included here. This section of your report describes each step of the experiment. When other scientists read the report, they should be able to replicate the experiment. If you design the experiment, you must provide your rationale for the design. This can be done in the introduction or woven into the methods section. But first, check with your professor. Make sure you do not include the results in the methods section--unless the professor says it is okay. Quantify anything you can, such as time elapsed, temperature, mass, volume, etc.

Record any pertinent lab conditions (lighting, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.) at the time of the experiment. A most crucial detail is measurement. Readers should never have to refer back to a previous sentence in order to understand the current sentence. This section includes all data collected from the experiment, including any data that does not support your hypothesis. It is good to present detailed data in tables, figures, and graphs because it will help the reader see patterns or trends. The presentation of data entails specific rules.

For detailed assistance in designing visual presentation of data, visit www.ncsu.edu/labwrite and then click on "resources." The discussion explains the significance of the results and provides a detailed account of what happened in the experiment. Evaluate what happened, based on the hypothesis and purpose of the experiment. If the results contain errors, analyze the reasons for the errors. The discussion reiterates any important findings and quantitative values from the results section.

For each result, describe the patterns, principles, and relationships. Also, explain how the results relate to your expectations and to references cited.

Explain any agreements, contradictions, or exceptions. Suggest the theoretical implications of the results. Extend your findings to other situations or other species. Give the big picture: do your findings help us understand a broader topic?
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