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Unformatted text preview: W RITING A LABORATORY REPORT Laboratory Report W orksheet Selecting a Format Formal lab reports should follow the format used for research reports in scientific journals. Roughly the same outline is used by all scientific journals. The scientific method is used as the basis for the format: formulating a hypothesis, conducting an experiment to test the hypothesis, collecting the data and interpreting the data to form a conclusion. Your lab report should consist of the following sections. Use the heading for each section with the exception of title. Title: 1 point The title should indicate clearly and concisely the subject and scope of the report. Objective(s) 4 points The objectives give background information about the experiment. You should state the problem and purpose of the investigation and the question you are trying to answer or the hypothesis that will be tested. Materials and Methods: 5 points This section, written in paragraph form, must include a description of the materials, procedures and equipment used. The description should be exact enough that some one could come in and conduct the experiment. Include specific volumes and concentrations of chemicals, brand names, sex, and age of species. Results 5 points All data should be collected and organized in a logical order. Results can often be more effective when illustrated as tables or figures. Refer to and describe tables and figures in the results section. Discussion and Conclusion 10 points In this section you should interpret the collected data and relate it to the hypothesis in the introduction. Explain the significance of our results. If errors were made or additional research is needed, explain in this section. Conclusion: Page 1 of 2 ver. 1.6 DR. GALLOW AY’S TEN MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE IN W RITING A LABORATORY REPORT 1. Inadequate title for the paper. For example: “A Biology Report”. Such a title offers no lead to the content of the paper. 2. Beginning the separate sections (Introduction, discussion, etc) on a new page instead of immediately after the end of the previous section. 3. W riting in the style of a laboratory manual. For example, “First pour agar into six plates. Then inoculate the plates with the stock culture, then incubate the culture for four hours”, etc. 4. Beginning the Methods and Materials section with a listing of necessary equipment. Again, it sounds like a laboratory manual. For example: “For this experiment you need the following equipment; 6 Petri plates, 1 liter of agar, two inoculating loops, etc.” Errors 3 and 4 are understandable since some students have used laboratory manuals in high school or other science courses. They thus assume that the “lab manual method” is the proper style for scientific papers. 5. Information is placed in wrong sections of the papers. For example, students often include results in the Methods and Materials Section. 6. The results section may contain only a table or graph without accompanying text. 7. There my be no references in the text to the accompanying tables and figures. 8. Improper legends and titles may be used for tables and graphs. 9. Incorrect numbering sequence may be used on the tables and graphs. 10. Improper English may occur, including misspellings, incomplete sentences, lengthy, awkward sentence structure, punctuations errors, etc. It is often a sock to the students to realize that correct English is a basic requirement in scientific writing. The usual reply from the student is “W hat?! You are going to grade on English?!” Page 2 of 2 ver. 1.6 ...
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- Spring '06