The How-To of Writing a Better Lab Report

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In high school, a student is taught how to write an academic essay. These are either research papers, opinion papers, or analysis papers. When the student gets to college, the regular major choice student knows how to write the basic types of essay. Writing a specialized essay for those enrolled in the STEM majors though is another story.

Most college students enrolled in STEM do not know how to write effective Lab Reports because these were not taught as part of the college paper writing skills in high school.

That is why STEM students in college find it difficult to write a Lab Report and often resort to lab report writing service help.

A Lab Report is basically a scientific version of a literary analysis essay.

In a literary analysis essay, character familiarity, its development, and the results of its developed actions are analyzed in order to gain a deeper understanding of the character.

In a Lab Report, the chemicals take the place of the characters, its interaction with one another represents its development, and the resulting combination of chemicals and its reactions represent the deeper understanding of the chemical(s) substance.

While the parallelism of the two are interesting, it still doesn’t teach a STEM student how to write a Lab Report. This article will intimate the 5 step secret to writing the perfect Lab Report.

Okay, you were taught how to write your observations in relation to your high school, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry classes. That’s a good start, but the content of those papers does not make for a definitive and effective lab report. In order to do that, you need to know the basic steps.

Think Ahead, Plan Ahead

Think. What is this report all about? What is it that you want to say? How do you plan to say it? Plan your paper. Outline the content. Consider all the perceived required elements of the lab experiment and what you think the results will be. Make sure that you have a fool-proof, solid plan in place even before you start your first experiment. Be ready for the unexpected because in an experiment, anything can happen.  Failure to plan means your results will not be usable in the event of a lab disaster, which could lead to a disaster of a grade as well. It won’t hurt for you to make sure that the experiment has not been done before and that your data is the most accurate there is regarding the study.

Don’t Just Take Notes, Take Keynotes

It’s one thing to take notes in class on a part time basis. Do the same thing when conducting an experiment and you will be sure to never finish your experiment and as such, not have enough accurate data to compile for a lab report. Detailed note taking during the experiment stage is a hard requirement. Only the most intricate of note taking will do because after the experiment is completed, the notes will be the only data you will have to refer to as you write the lab report. Back up systems for note taking is also key. Don’t leave anything to chance. Take detailed notes via voice dictation on your computer, record the information on a back up system on your mobile phone, and, go old school, use a pen and paper to write permanent hard copy notes of your theory, experiment, observations, and conclusions in a readable manner.

Don’t Forget the Tables and Graphs

While it is always better to use words to describe the experiment, there will be times when a graphical or table presentation of the number related information becomes necessary. Don’t be mistaken though, the use of graphs and tables are not absolute. These should only be used in required instances. When the use of one or both are required don’t forget the following rules for its use.

  • Numbers and titles make for easy references
  • Units of measurement are required
  • Numbers need to line up properly

Graphs and tables aren’t the only illustrations you can use in the report. For variety, consider using a flow chart, map, illustration, or picture.

Be Precise in Your Writing

The goal of creative writing is to entertain, the goal of research writing is to inform. The goal of a Lab Report is precisely that, to report on the results of an experiment. What shouldn’t be done when finally writing the lab report then? Don’t wax poetic as if you were writing in the form of the next great bard. Rather, stick to the facts. Give a direct representation of the lab experiment and its results. This is not the time to be creative. As a scientific paper, you need to state just the facts because there is no room for entertaining language in a scientific presentation. Sure it can be boring to write in such a manner. Science is like that. Boring in text but interesting in presentation to those who understand what is going on in the experiment. There is no word count to meet in a lab report because it only allows for detailed representation of facts.

Those Before You Make the Best Educators

If there is any uncertainty on your part about how to write a lab report, go to the university library and look at the work of previous students who wrote similar experiments to yours. Learn from their writing styles and data presentation skills. Read their work in order to gain inspiration for your own.

It can be crazy scary to do a lab report because of the controlled environment of the experiment. Fear of needing to grab a fire extinguisher can strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned scientist. Never fear though the chances of that happening are zero. Provided you follow all the steps required to create an accurate experiment and usable report, everything will be fine.