The purpose of a lab report

The purpose of a lab report

The purpose of a lab report is mainly to give an outline of what went on during a particular experiment. The lab report should be clear in such a way that a person who never attended the lab session can go through it and understand what’s going on. It has three functions which are:

  • Gives a record of the raw data collected in an experiment
  • Give extra information to extend the data
  • To analyze or operate on the data, coming up with conclusions and providing recommendations on the experiment.

The structure of a lab report

The lab report has a structure similar to the other types of reports though it differs a bit. The structure has to be maintained carefully for it to qualify to be a lab report.

  • The title page

This page should not contain anything else other than:

  • The title of the experiment.
  • Your name and those of your partners if any.
  • Your registration number and those of your partners if any.
  • The date of the experiment.
  • The name of your instructor.
  • The abstract

The abstract is the summarized version of the whole report. One should be able to read the abstract and understand the purpose of the experiment. It should be brief and straight to the point.

Even though it is provided immediately after the title page, it should be the last thing you write in your report as you need to understand the whole report so as to write a summary of it.

  • The data sheet(s)

The data should be well recorded in the data sheet(s). In case of an error while filling in the data, just draw a single line over the value as covering agents like the ‘white out’ are forbidden. The values recorded must have units and uncertainty estimates, if any, for the apparatus.

  • Data calculation, analysis and graphs

The necessary calculations must be carried out in this section. The values used in the calculation must correspond to the values in the data sheet(s). The calculations must be clear and the answers must contain the correct units.

The most challenging part is the analysis of data. This is however the most important part that one shouldn’t assume. Here, one is required too show how the experiment data relates with the theory.

One should also cite the sources of error. This errors should be those you have no control over but they still affect the result of your experiment.

The graphs must be drawn in accordance to the lab manual. The title of the graph must be indicated as well as the scale used. The graph must be clearly labeled.

  • Conclusion

After analyzing the data, one should come up with a conclusion on the experiment. This conclusion should be followed by recommendations on what should be done in order to conduct a more better experiment.

  • References

One is required to cite all the sources that he/she extracted information from. This is to acknowledge and appreciate the work done by others that has contributed to your report.