Writing in Science
A report is a recap of what a scientist investigated and may contain various sections and information specific to the investigation. Below is a comprehensive guideline that students can follow as they prepare their lab/activity reports. Additional writing templates can be found in the District Science website.
Parts of a Lab Report: A Step-by-Step Checklist
Title (underlined and on the top center of the page)
· A summary of the main concepts that you will learn by carrying out the experiment.
· Identify the research question/problem and state it clearly.
- Write your prediction as to how the independent variable will affect the dependent variable using an IF-THEN-BECAUSE statement:
If (state the independent variable) is (choose an action), then (state the dependent variable) will (choose an action), because (describe reason for event).
Materials and activity set up:
· Do not copy the procedures from the lab manual or handout.
· Summarize the procedures that you implemented. Be sure to include critical steps.
· Give accurate and concise details about the apparatus (diagram) and materials used.
Variables and Control Test:
1. Independent variable (manipulated variable): The factor that can be changed by the investigator (the cause).
2. Dependent variable (responding variable): The observable factor of an investigation resulting from the change in the independent variable.
3. Constant variable: The other identified independent variables in the investigation that are kept or remain the same during the investigation.
· Identify the control test. A control test is the separate experiment that serves as the standard for comparison and helps identify effects of the dependent variable
· Ensure that all observations and/or data are recorded.
- Use a table and write your observations clearly. (e.g., color, solubility changes, etc.)
- Pay particular attention to significant figures and make sure that all units are stated.
· Analyze data and specify method used.
· If graphing data to look for a common trend, be sure to properly format and label all aspects of the graph (i.e., name of axes, numerical scales, etc.)
· Ensure that you have used your data correctly to produce the required result.
· Include any errors or uncertainties that may affect the validity of your result.
Conclusion and Evaluation:
I. First Paragraph: Introduction
a. What was investigated?
1. Describe the problem.
b. Was the hypothesis supported by the data?
1. Compare your actual result to the expected (from the literature, or hypothesis) result.
2. Include a valid conclusion that relates to the initial problem or hypothesis.
c. What were your major findings?
1. Did the findings support (or not) the hypothesis as the solution to the problem?
2. Calculate the percentage error from the expected value.
II. Middle Paragraphs: Discuss the major findings of the experiment.
d. How did your findings compare with other researchers?
1. Compare your result to other students’ results in the class.
· The body paragraphs support the introductory paragraph by elaborating on the different pieces of information that were collected as data.
· Each finding needs its own sentence and relates back to supporting or not supporting the hypothesis.
· The number of body paragraphs you have will depend on how many different types of data were collected. They should always refer back to the findings in the first paragraph.
III. Last Paragraph: Conclusion
e. What possible explanations can you offer for your findings?
1. Evaluate your method.
2. State any assumptions that were made which may affect the result.
f. What recommendations do you have for further study and for improving the experiment?
1. Comment on the limitations of the method chosen.
2. Suggest how the method chosen could be improved to obtain more accurate and reliable results.
g. What are some possible applications of the experiment?
1. How can this experiment or the findings of this experiment be used in the real world for the benefit of society?