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How To Write A Biology Lab Report

Shiv Ratan24 July 2019


Science is a subject which requires a lot of analysing in labs 


The process, observations and inferences of each experiment has to be noted down and written in the form of a report. Biology lab reports use certain format which has to be followed. It is similar to other lab reports and is quite easy to write once you understand the format. It is imperative to know the components of a lab report and what each of them should ideally contain. 

The main components of a lab report are:

  • Title page
  • Introduction
  • List of materials used
  • Procedure
  • Results
  • Inference
  • References 


Though lab reports can vary in length and even format, there is a basic structure that all lab reports follow. If you look at examples of lab reports, you will find that the most of them follow a similar format and consists of the same sub titles.


Title page

The star of the title page is obviously the title. The title should be concise and should be able to deliver what the report is about. The name of the experiment is usually given as the tile. Ensure that the title is not too long. Ideally, it should be less than ten words. Write the title in such a way that it is given attention. If the report is a printed one, make the title bold and large in terms of font size. 


Centre alignment would suit it too. Your name should be included in the title page itself. If it is a group report, all the members’ names should be included. Submission date, class title and instructor’s name can be written in the title page. These details are not compulsorily written, but the report looks more professional this way. This also makes it easier for your professor to keep track of your work.


Introduction 

The introduction must envelop the topic. It should state the purpose of your experiment and why is it important to do it. You can also describe how you aim to do the experiment in order to gain knowledge from it. Secondly, your introduction must also include your hypothesis. These are your predictions made prior to performing the experiment. They need not be confirmed in the results. They can be called as the results you expect to observe. 


The introduction must also present any background knowledge that will help the reader to understand the experiment or its aim in a better manner. This is where you can introduce the terminologies and units you will be using during the experiment. Keep in mind that your language should match with the science part and also the hypothesis should include only what can be proved using science. 


List of materials used

All the materials used during the experiment should be listed. You can also explain the significance of each component. The specific amount of a certain material used can be mentioned as well. Another point that can added is you can explain each component’s properties. If required, you can include substances that can replace certain materials used in the experiment.


Procedure

The procedure has to be written step-by-step. Try not to include any unnecessary details. But it should be detailed in nature as well because someone else who does not know the procedure should be able to do the experiment using the report. If factors like time and weather plays a role in the experiment, those details should be included. Ensure that it is described precisely. Narrative form of writing should not be used. Ideally, procedures are written in the form of steps which are numbered. Details of the specimens can be ignored if they do not have much importance with regard to the aim of the experiment. Also, the procedure has to be written in the past tense form. This ensures that it does not look like an instruction manual.


Results

This section comprises of all the results obtained after the experiment. It should be presented in the textual formal and by using visual aids. The results can also be presented in a tabulated format especially if comparisons are involved. Graphs and pie charts are efficient visual aids. They are self-explanatory in nature if proper markers are given. Also, make sure that diagrams, graphs, etc. are labelled and given a short description. Interpretation of data should not be done in the results. The results include just the final status after the experiment, but it should be presented in a way the reader can understand easily.


Inference

Here is where you should interpret the data and, analyse and then explain them. A summary of the results can be added in here, but direct copying of results should not be done. You can also discuss the errors that might have occurred and explain how you can possibly avoid them. The hypothesis can also be summarised here in order to prove or reject it. The key point to note here is that the reader should feel that the experiment has been analysed to full detail and the data has been interpreted in the best possible manner. The conclusion should not be too long and again, should be concise and to the point. You should not include sentences just for the sake of it as length does not matter here.


References

Your citations have to be listed in this section. Make sure all the sources you used have been included. This will also help you from not facing accusations of plagiarism.


In some biology laboratory reports, you will find a section called precautions. It is usually written after the inference is done. You can list the precautions that should be taken while performing the experiment and while using the specific materials. This can also be included under the section, list of materials used or in the procedure. If there are any calculations to be done, you can either add another section or add it to results itself. Also, if there are too many changes before the final result, another section can be included for observations.


Including page numbers, making the titles and subtitles bold, underlining them, italicizing the terminologies, drawing a bounding box for diagrams and graphs, etc. are optional but it adds to the neatness of the report and makes it easy to read.

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