The diameter of each of the 5 objects was measured with either the ruler or caliper. The circumference and diameter of each object was measured with the same measuring device in case the two instruments were not calibrated the same. The circumference measurement was obtained by tightly wrapping a small piece of paper around the object, marking the circumference on the paper with a pencil, and measuring this distance with the ruler or caliper.
The precision of the ratio can be estimated using the error propogation formula:. Another way to visualize and calculate this constant circle ratio is by graphing the circumference versus diameter for each object. Graphs are especially useful for examining possible trends over the range of measurements. If C is proportional to D, we should get a straight line through the origin.
From our numerical results, we would expect the slope of the C vs. The slope of the best fit line is 3. The intercept is essentially zero: The R squared statistic shows that the data all fall very close to the best fit line. If all the data lie exactly on the fitted line, R squared is equal to 1.
If the data are randomly scattered, R squared is zero. Our results support the original hypothesis for 5 circles ranging in size from 2 cm to 7 cm in diameter. The line has an intercept The larger uncertainty from the graphical analysis suggests that the random measurement errors may be larger than estimated in the numerical analysis. The uncertainty in the measurements could be due to the paper-wrapping method of measuring the circumference, circles that may not be perfect, and the limited precision of the measuring devices.
The use of paper to measure the circumference was probably the most significant source of uncertainty. It is unlikely, however, that this measurement technique biased our results, since the technique probably gave measurements of C that were too high in some cases and too low in others. The best lab reports have clear, coherent story lines and a natural flow. It should be easy for your reader to understand the purpose of your experiment, findings, and the significance of your work.
Grammar is another area where I've seen students struggle. You want to be sure that you're using terminology that flows with your style of writing and that you are confident using on paper AND in a conversation. Writing a lab report can be intimidating, but whether you're a student or Nobel Prize winner, the secret to a great piece of scientific writing is its organization.
As a whole, a lab report communicates scientific results. The results section provides the data. And lastly, the discussion gives a detailed analysis of the data , states if the results support the hypothesis, and sometimes leaves the reader with a new question to investigate!
The title should be brief and describe the main point of the experiment. Even better if you can come up with a catchy one — scientists love a good pun! The abstract should be a brief one paragraph overview of what is in the report. It should summarize the purpose of the experiment, your hypothesis, methods, key findings, significance, and conclusions.
The goal is to get your reader interested in the work enough to keep reading! Include in-text citations as appropriate. Details about the experiment should be written in past tense, since it has already been finished. Theory, however, should be written in present tense. Always write this part in your own words, rather than quoting or paraphrasing references. In the materials and methods , you want to describe the procedures used to test your hypothesis in detail. Describe what you did, in the order you did it.
Never use bullet points or numbered steps! You should be detailed enough that someone could reproduce your experiment and obtain similar results using what you've written. In the past, scientists avoided writing in the first person I or we because who performed the experiment is usually not important to the procedure. However many style guides now recommend using the active voice, so you'll want to check in with your instructor.
You can write that you recorded results, or how you recorded them, but you shouldn't write about what your results were just yet. Remember that you're describing what already happened, so you should again write in the past tense. The results section is where you present the data you collected in the experiment and describe trends you observed. You can write this part in the past tense because the experiment has already happened.
Results is usually a short section because at this point you're just reporting facts, not interpreting your data or drawing conclusions just yet! Data should be organized into tables, figures, and diagrams. Use as many visual aids as you need to clearly show how your hypothesis was or wasn't supported. Each should be appropriately labeled and clearly state what is being shown.
Remember to keep it professional — never use images you found on the web or have taken with your cell phone unless you've been asked to do so by your instructor. The discussion section is where you explain, analyze, and interpret your findings in detail. This section focuses on the significance of your results, weaknesses in the experiment, and what you have learned.
The references section consists of an alphabetical or numerical list of the resources you used in writing your report. All full citations on your References list should match to an in-text citation. Include your lab manual and any external research you have done.
The method section is where you describe what you actually did. It includes the procedure that was followed. This should be a report of what you actually did, not just what was planned. A typical procedure usually includes:. If any aspects of the experimental procedure were likely to contribute systematic error to the data and results, point this out in sufficient detail in this section.
Your description of the experimental set-up should be sufficient to allow someone else to replicate the experiment themselves. When you carry out an experiment, you usually follow a set of instructions such as these, which may include extra information to guide you through the steps. A burette was clamped to a retort stand and filled with standardised NaOH aq and the initial measurement was recorded.
The conical flask was placed below the burette, on top of a piece of white paper. Five drops of universal indicator solution were added to the flask When writing up the procedure, you must report what was actually done and what actually happened, and omit any extra information such as helpful hints included in the instructions. Your goal for this section should be to include enough detail for someone else to replicate what you did and achieve a similar outcome.
You should also explain any modifications to the original process introduced during the experiment. While most science units require that you report in the passive voice , some require the active voice. In the example below, the first person is used e. This is accepted in some disciplines, but not others. Check your unit information or talk to your unit coordinator. Read samples of student reports below and identify which examples are written in passive voice, and which use active voice.
In this section, you present the main data collected during your experiment. Each key measurement needs to be reported appropriately. Data are often presented in graphs, figures or tables. This section often also includes analysis of the raw data, such as calculations. In some disciplines the analysis is presented under its own heading, in others it is included in the results section. An analysis of the errors or uncertainties in the experiment is also usually included in this section.
Most numerical data are presented using tables or graphs. These need to be labelled appropriately to clearly indicate what is shown. Note that in Fig. For most experiments an error analysis is important, and errors should be included in tables and on graphs. Also, it is always best to draw figures yourself if you can.
If you do use figures from another source, indicate in the citation whether you have modified it in any way. When showing calculations, it is usual to show the general equation, and one worked example. Where a calculation is repeated many times, the additional detail is usually included in an appendix.
Check the requirements given in your unit information or lab manual, or ask your tutor if you are unsure where to place calculations. In some schools, like Biology, calculations that are too detailed to go into the main body of the report can be added in an appendix. The purpose of such appendices is to present the data gathered and demonstrate the level of accuracy obtained.
A chromatogram was produced for the unknown compound U, and each of the known compounds, A-E. Rf values for each substance are listed in Table 1. As well as presenting the main findings of your experiment, it is important that you indicate how accurate your results are. This is usually done through determining the level of uncertainty. The sources of error that you need to consider will vary between experiments, but you will usually need to factor in both random and systematic errors.
Your error analysis should identify the main causes of uncertainty in your measurements, note any assumptions, and show how you have calculated any error bars. Check with your demonstrator, tutor or lecturer if you are unsure about how to determine uncertainties or whether error bars are required for your experiment. Your discussion section should demonstrate how well you understand what happened in the experiment.
You should:. The discussion example below is from a first-year Biology unit. The aim of this experiment was to identify decomposition rates of leaf breakdown to establish rates of energy transfer. It was expected that the leaves would show a far higher rate of decomposition in the shore zone, where there are more chances for sediments to rub against them. However the two zones show no significant difference in leaf breakdown, although these results are non-conclusive due to the limitations of this experiment.
The two zones of leaf decomposition were physically too close, and over the incubation period reeds were observed growing close to the limnetic zone. This may have negatively affected the accuracy of the results by reducing the differences in habitat at these sites, as seen in other experiments Jones et al. The results also had large standard deviations, possibly due to these physical constraints or human error in weighing leaves.
Further studies with more diverse zones and precise procedures should be undertaken in order to explore leaf decomposition and rates of energy transfer more effectively. Drag each description of each component of the Discussion section to its example. Notice the order in which the components make up a coherent Discussion section.
The conclusion section should provide a take-home message summing up what has been learned from the experiment:. In brief lab reports, the conclusion is presented at the end of the discussion, and does not have its own heading. Note that a conclusion should never introduce any new ideas or findings, only give a concise summary of those which have already been presented in the report. Click again to hide the comment. It is quite possible that you may have in-text citations in your lab reports.
Typically these will be included in the introduction to establish evidence of background for current theories or topics. Your discussion section will often include in-text citations, to show how your findings relate to those in the published literature, or to provide evidence-based suggestions or explanations for what you observed. When in-text citations are incorporated into your lab report, you must always have the full citations included in a separate reference list.
The reference list is a separate section that comes after your conclusion and before any appendices. Check your lab manual or unit information to determine which referencing style is preferred. Carefully follow that referencing style for your in-text references and reference list. You can find examples and information about common referencing styles in the Citing and referencing Library guide. The following is an example of a reference list based on the in-text citations used in the Introduction and Conclusion sections in this tutorial.
Environmental Ecology Journal 75 , Energy Efficiency Reports. Report no. Many of your Science units will require you to write formal laboratory reports. Review the components of the Science laboratory report.
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Case history 2. Mental state examination 3. Physical examination 4. This must indicate what the study is about. It must include the variables under investigation. It should not be written as a question. The abstract provides a concise and comprehensive summary of a research report.
Your style should be brief, but not using note form. Look at examples in journal articles. It should aim to explain very briefly about words the following:. What does it all mean? Mention implications of your findings if appropriate. The abstract comes at the beginning of your report but is written at the end as it summarises information from all the other sections of the report.
The purpose of the introduction is to explain where your hypothesis comes from i. Ideally, the introduction should have a funnel structure: Start broad and then become more specific. The aims should not appear out of thin air, the preceding review of psychological literature should lead logically into the aims and hypotheis.
Who were the participants? What did they do? What did they find? What do these results mean? How do the results relate to the theoretical framework? Perhaps it overcomes a limiation of previous research. Write a paragraph explaining what you plan to investigate annd make a clear and concise prediction regarding the results you expect to find. There should be a logical progression of ideas which aids the flow of the report. This means the studies outlined should lead logically into your aims and hypotheses.
Do be concise and selective, avoid the temptation to include anything in case it is relevant i. A table can be used to display descriptive statistics if this makes the data easier to understand. Numbers reported to 2 d. The exceptions to this rule: Numbers which can never exceed 1.
Are your results similar or different? Acknowledge limitations, but only if they can explain the result obtained. If the study has found a reliable effect be very careful suggesting limitations as you are doubting your results.