Scientific Writing and Standard Components of a Lab Report INTRODUCTION Writing is a powerful tool. Effective communication is necessary to succeed in any field. As a professional, you must communicate with both your colleagues, and the community at large. Writing is the means of showing the value of your work. The specific style of writing in science is based on the unique audience of readers. In addition, writing allows one to organize one’s thoughts and clarify ideas, and it fosters abstract thought, an ability essential in science. The ideal time to learn to write for science is now, as you are learning about science itself.
PURPOSE OF A LAB REPORT
A lab report is a form of scientific writing that adheres to some common hierarchies of organization. The specific organization/components of a lab report are discussed in this exercise. There are many types of lab reports, each written according to its intended audience. A scientist shares experimental results with the scientific community by writing a lab report in the form of a research article for publication in a scientific journal. A graduate student whose work will be reviewed by a committee of practicing scientists writes an elaborate lab report called a dissertation. The simplest kind of lab report, the kind you have probably written before, is that written by a student to summarize the events of an instructional laboratory exercise. These are written for an instructor who will assess your understanding of the scientific concepts based on your analysis of a particular experiment. Whether the lab report is simple or elaborate, the purpose is always the same -- to evaluate a hypothesis using a formal experiment. A lab report is a summary of an experiment. It provides the analysis of the experiment's results. A successful lab report uses a straightforward style, one that employs clear and concise words and sentences to unambiguously convey your meaning to the reader. Style should reflect purpose, and if your goal is to summarize the experiment and evaluate the hypothesis, then unnecessary words get in the way. Omit the fluff. Concentrate on the logic and the clarity of the argument. In addition to style, a standard organization will help to convey your message. Although lab reports may vary in organization depending on (1) the complexity of the experiment(s), and (2) the requirements set forth by the laboratory instructor, there are standard components for a lab report.
COMPONENTS OF A LAB REPORT
Title A Title is a flag designed to attract a reader. In science, a Title needs to contain specific information including: the organism studied (scientific name preferred); the aspect of the organism you studied, or the dependent variable (e.g., growth rate, heart rate, feeding behavior); the factor you manipulated, or the independent variable (e.g., temperature, moisture, drugs, chemicals). If
your study did not involve a specific organism, state the system or entity investigated (i.e., deciduous woodland, pond, sewage treatment plant). Below are some examples: The Effect of Gibberellic Acid on Stem Length in the Garden Pea Pisum sativum Determining the Optimum Temperature Range for a Phosphatase Enzyme The Action of Penicillin on Escherichia coli Growth
Introduction The Introduction presents the nature of the problem or the specific question you tried to answer. It lays the groundwork for the rest of the lab report. It is a preview, and contains these essential elements: 1. 2. 3. sufficient background information a statement of the experiment's purpose the hypothesis evaluated by the experiment
4. a brief but meaningful summary of procedures
First, the Introduction should present sufficient background information for the reader. What constitutes sufficient introductory information? Consider your audience. Decide what your readers need to know to fully understand the basis for your experiment. This information may come from a variety of sources: your...
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