Lab Report


General Notes:

Step 1: Understand assignment. Complete lab experiment.

  • Before lab:
    • Read over lab assignment (from University of Guelph) in advance.
    • Define your objectives, prediction, or hypothesis.
    • Summarize your expected outcomes.
    • If needed, do brief literature search to understand context around experiment.
  • During lab: Take detailed notes on procedures and results and note any differences in procedures or expected outcomes. Record enough detail to allow someone else to repeat experiment based on your notes.
  • As you write your report be aware of the style of scientific writing in your discipline (from University of Leicester).
    • Write in complete sentences.
    • Try to stay away from using 'I'.
    • Use past tense.
    • Use an active, not passive, voice (pdf from University of Minnesota).
    • Pay attention to grammar (from University of Minnesota).
Percentage of time on this step: 20%

Step 2: Describe materials and methods.

  • Briefly explain overall procedures. List materials and equipment used.
  • Explain in detail the steps in the experiment; include sub-headings, if needed. Be specific enough that another student could replicate the experiment.
  • Do not include results.
  • Include lab notes, if required.
Percentage of time on this step: 15%

Step 3: Analyze and describe results.

  • Analyze data collected or observed.
  • Report major results with no interpretation.
  • Create data tables, graphs, or charts to clearly display results include labels, units and descriptions.
  • Use subheadings.
  • Do not make up or modify data if results are different than you expected. Fabricating or falsifying data is considered Academic Misconduct and can result in penalties.
  • Explain possible causes of unexpected results.
Percentage of time on this step: 15%

Step 4: Conduct library research. Develop introduction.

Percentage of time on this step: 5%

Step 5: Interpret and synthesize results in the discussion and conclusion.

  • Refer to your hypothesis, outcomes, or predictions as you discuss conclusions.
  • Support each conclusion with evidence from your experiment. Describe your rationale for your conclusions and any patterns or relationship your results demonstrate.
  • Compare results to the expected results and to those found in the literature (include citations).
  • Discuss the limitations of your experiment:
    • What can't you conclude?
    • What other interpretations may be correct?
    • What were the limits of the methods you used?
  • Discuss how your results fit into a broader context such as practical applications or other situations, species, or systems.
Percentage of time on this step: 15%

Step 6: Write abstract. Develop a title. Revise and rewrite.

Percentage of time on this step: 20%

Step 7: Put lab report in final form.

Percentage of time on this step: 10%