Academic Writing Complete Guide
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Scientific is a crucial field, just like the scientific investigation or experimenting. Most of the scientific investigation happens in the lab in form of setting up the equipment, repairing, obtaining supplies and samples, checking the consistency of every apparatus, calibration, and data collection done by running the experiment. A great time is spent presenting the report in a manner that is concise, objective, critical, and conclusive. All this must be presented in a lab report. To make this report much more effective and influential, you must organize it well and ensure that it follows the right structure. There is not defined shortlist of instructions that one can use to get the best lab report. You only get a single chance of influencing the audience through a well-written lab report.
If you prepare a well-organized lab report, you can affect your audience and attract them to your work; your reputation rises as well as your chances for employment or promotion. The scientific fraternity may be drawn to your work and you can retain them as your audience henceforth. Lab reports are crucial parts of the laboratory courses and are significant payers in your overall grade. If you are provided with an outline of how to write your report, you have to stick to it. Sometimes you will also be required to include your report in a lab notebook whereas others will demand a separate report. Regardless of the requirement, stick to the rules and your report will serve its purpose.
A lab report helps you to explain your experiments to the audience, what you learned, and what the results meant. It is also written to communicate the work to the management and in such a case, the management pegs the decisions of the company on the outcomes of such reports. A lab report is also written to archive the work so that it does not have to be repeated in the future.
Lab report transcends a mere data presentations and goes ahead to demonstrate your comprehension of the ideas behind the data. You have to identify the differences and how they occurred, show how they affected the experiment, demonstrate your understanding of the principles the experiment was meant to investigate. However much the format is helpful, it does not displace or replace your clear thinking and organization in writing. Your ideas have to be organized carefully and expressed coherently.
The general outline of a lab report
Experiments are meant to bring a better understanding of the ideas to discover new ones. If the findings of the experiments are done through a lab report, it must outline how the experiment worked and the ultimate results. As such, a lab report must have several sections, which are identified by tiles. The typical components of this paper include:
- Title page
- Methods and materials
- Experimental procedures
- Results and discussion
- Further reading
Not every lab report will contain a title page, but if it is a requirement from your instructor, you can include it. The title page should contain the title of the experiment, your name and the names of the lab partners if any, the name of your instructor, the date of carrying out the experiment or submission of the report. For instance, if your experiment was to gauge the gravitational acceleration of earth using a pendulum as the apparatus, your title can look like this, “Gauging the Gravitation Acceleration Using Simple Pendulum”. It is important that you avoid using the article “The” as the first word in your title because it will mislead the search if one is using the database.
This is a summary of four essential aspects of your report. They include the purpose of the experiment or the report, key findings significance as the major conclusions. It also incorporates a brief theory or methodology reference. The readers should be able to decide whether they need to read your entire report or not. Your abstract should not exceed 200 words, translating to a single paragraph.
In this paragraph, you state the purpose if the experiment using general terms and review the existing information or theory. In other words, you provide the background information about the theory. This is an important aspect since the reader will be looking for any information in your report, that relates to the area under investigation. You can do this through the provision of the existing state of knowledge. The introduction is the section in which you present to the audience, your hypothesis.
Materials and methods
This can be a simple list, which ought to be accurate and complete. In some instances, you can direct the audience to a lab manual or a standard procedure. Indicate the parameters of the system that you are measuring. If there is any change in parameters as you measure its effect you have to specify such details with regard to the type of standard or instrument you have used to make the measurement.
This is a description of the process chronologically you can use a clear paragraph structure to explain all the steps in the order in which they happened, but not as they were supposed to happen. If you are required to state that you followed the procedure in manual, indicate instances where you did not follow them. If you do it right, then another researcher should be able to replicate the procedure and achieve the same results.
Calculations, tables, and figures usually dominate this section. However, you have to state the results in a simple language for the reader to understand. You graphics have to be very clear, easy to read and well labeled. You can make your results by using a sentence to let them focus while they are reading. This will help them to understand your graphs and any other graphics that you have used in your report. Sometimes a simple calculation would suffice. The rest can appear in the appendices. Your raw data can also come in the appendices, which makes it necessary for the reader to refer to the appendices as necessary to identify special features.
This is a crucial part of your report, which shows your understanding of the experiment beyond the simple level of its completion. This is where you explain, analyses, interpret everything to the reader. In other words, it is your presentation of the findings from the experiment to the audience. You have to evaluate the outcome objectively. Even when the outcome is to something close to what you expected, explain why you think the results are inconsistent. Let it be plain and simple and use factual statements. You can state the discrepancies in the experimental results and the model. You then discuss the causes of the differences in terms of errors by offering logical conclusions. You can also suggest improvements where necessary. To answer the significance and the meaning of the results you have to analyze and interpret your results.
Show what the results indicate, what you have found and the explain your knowledge with certainty basing it on your results and conclusions
Show the significance of the results and the existing ambiguities. What are the possible questions? Find a logical explanation for the problems in the data.
You can compare your results with the ones obtained, show their differences, and account for them. This demands you to be very specific. You also have to analyze the experimental error. If your experiment was within the limits of the tolerances, you can still account for the differences from the ideal. If the flaws emanated from the experimental design show how the design can be improved.
You can also explain your results using theoretical issues. In other words, you are moving the results to the theory to show how well they have illustrated the theory.
This can be a very short paragraph, especially in most undergraduate labs. You just state what you simply know for sure. You can use the conclusion to discuss the weakness of the design, what can be done in the future to extend the conclusions you have inferred or the implications of your conclusions.
Include your lab manual or any outside reading that you have used in your report. Ensure that they are listed appropriately and cited according to the format recommended by your instructor.
You can include raw data, calculations, graphs, pictures, or tables that have not been included in the body of the report. Each kind should take its own appendix. Ensure that you have referred to each appendix at least once in your report.
This information has provided a simple framework or a basis on which one can write an effective lab report. Every lab report, whether handwritten or types, should be clear, neat, and organized. Sometimes if the report is an independent work, it should demonstrate the ability of the student to infer good conclusions from experiments. Use this information to come up with a good report on your academic success.