There are five main parts to a lab report: The
title, the aim, the method, the results and the conclusion. Here is
what to include in each one:
- Start with the heading such as "Natural Science" or
- Then put an appropriate title. "Investigating the
Refraction of Light" is an appropriate title while "Science
Project" is not. The title should be informative and brief - make
sure it is not too general.
- The aim of an experiment is the objective. In other words, it
says what can be learned from the experiment. "To see how
light is affected by lenses and plates of glass of various thickness."
- The aim should be brief - one or two lines.
- If a hypothesis was formulated before the experiment was done, than
it should be written here. In addition, any
good hypothesis should be backed up with an appropriate justification.
- If a sheet explaining the method was used in class,
often it is enough in this section to write "See instruction sheet . . .
" and put the title of the sheet used.
- If it is necessary to write out the method, follow
these instructions: Similar to a recipe in order to make a cake, the method includes all
the information necessary to successfully carry out
- All the materials needed
(this is usually in the form of a separate list).
- A step-by-step description
of what was done during the experiment.
- It should be written using language such as "The
beaker is placed on the tripod and heated for four minutes".
Do not use first person such as "We took the beaker
- Include the times of each operation, what things should be
- Be precise about units: "the Petri dishes
were kept at 37°C for 7 days", "16 grams of magnesium
oxide werer collected."
- A diagram or images to
illustrate the apparatus used and how it was set up. It can
be a drawing or a photo.
- Try to keep the method as brief but precise and clear as
possible. Someone who has never seen the experiment before
should be able to take your paper and repeat the experiment without
having to ask you "What's this part here?" or "How did
you do this?"
- The results of the experiment are your observations.
Observations are what you saw, heard, felt, etc. during the
experiment. In the results we put what happened during the
experiment but we do not state any interpretations of the results.
- The results are sometimes only qualitative,
sometimes only quantitative, but often they are both.
Qualitative refers to results which do not have numbers associated with
them: colors, effervescence (fizzing), texture (smooth or rough),
etc. Quantitative refers to results which have numbers: 109
bubbles, 37°C, 12.8 cm, 110 Volts, etc.
- Often, a diagram shows the results best. If you have any
photos of the results, put them in this section.
- If many quantitative results were found, they can be shown
as a graph or as a table.
- The conclusion is the most challenging part of the lab report
because it involves analyzing the experiment and it tries to explain
what the experiment proves. The conclusion includes some or all
of the following information:
- Interpretations of the
results. In other words, what do the observations
mean? For example, if an indicator turned from blue to red,
explain what significance that has.
- If a hypothesis was given in the aim, the conclusion should
state whether the hypothesis was confirmed or contradicted by the
- Sources of error - if
unexpected results were obtained, what possible flaws might have
existed in the way the experiment was set up? How could the
experiment be improved?
- The best place to start when writing the conclusion is
to go back to the aim.
Read it again and see what the experiment was trying to show. Did it
show that or something totally different?
- The conclusion may only be one paragraph but usually takes several
paragraphs to explain fully. Remember, the
results are what you got, and the conclusion is what you learned.