A Guide for Report Writing
Your lab reports will be an introduction to scientific journal style writing.
take a look at the typical layout of a journal paper.
Journal of Materials
Applied Physics Letters
are some examples.
Each report should contain the following elements:
Your title page will contain your name, the course number, the lab number
and/or title, and the date.
This is for my benefit.
You would not include
this in an actual journal publication.
Introduction – objectives and motivation for the work, and any necessary
concepts and background information.
Procedure -- description of experimental procedure.
Results -- description of results, tables, graphs, images, and etc.
Discussion – discussion of results
Conclusion -- brief summary
Your introduction will provide motivation, objectives, and any necessary
You are not to refer to lab reports as, “this lab,” or “this
You are writing these reports from a formal perspective.
such as, “this work,” “this study,” and/or “this investigation.”
The introduction is often a
difficult section to write.
I find students either write too much or too little in this section.
Try to tie this section in with your discussion section.
You may want to save writing this
section for last.
Avoid verbose discussion for example, “Materials Science is an
important discipline in Engineering.”
Statements such as this only take up space and
waste the reader’s time.
Avoid excessively long introductions.
While background and
methodology are essential elements in their own right, unless you are writing a review
paper, people are most interested in what it is you have done.
So, it should go without
saying, that most of the body of your report should be focused in these sections.
page introduction and half page discussion makes it look like you're trying to cover-up
for a lack of data and a lack of content and overall, it generally just looks bad.
The procedure section will describe your procedures so that someone with
reasonable scientific knowledge will be able to understand and reproduce your
It is not a list of instructions or a ‘play by play’ commentary.