Writing scientific reports is one of the mandatory requirements for all courses that require the lab to arrive at desired results. A lab report allows you to show your audience what you did in your experiment, what you learnt, and the meaning of your results. The report is also an integral part of your overall grade, hence you should approach it with utmost care. Even though you don’t need to be a writing expert to write a great lab report, you can still up your game with the tips we shall share in this post.
Tips on preparing for your lab report writing
This section will share the tips you need while preparing to write your scientific lab report.
- Get a proper understanding
To write a good lab report, first read carefully and understand all the facts you need to conduct the experiment. Ensure you have understood what why you are conducting the experiment that way and its procedure. Also, understand what you are going to learn from the experiment and who will benefit from the knowledge that will emanate from the experiment. But if you have any challenge comprehending these facts, it is prudent to ask for help from the laboratory supervisor before proceeding.
- Planning the procedures
You need to plan for the steps of your experiment in collaboration with your lab colleagues. You should also plan for the most effective ways of recording the data.
- Recording the data
You need to capture and record your data cautiously because it is the raw material you will need to write your report.
- Compare notes with your colleagues
After conducting the experiment, consult with your colleagues to establish if you got similar results, whether the results validated your hypothesis or not, and find out any similar trends during the experiment.
- Have your readers in mind
The last part of your preparation needs to center on your readers. You should think of the best ways of presenting the report to your readers in the easiest way they can understand.
Tips for writing your report content
After preparing yourself to write the report, you now need to look at the most appropriate way of presenting your content. Content is an important component of your paper because that is what your readers will come into contact with. It is the only way to present your findings and their meaning to your readers. Here are tips to guide you through this stage.
- Mind quality and quantity of your evidence items
Details are important in your scientific report. However, you need to create a balance between the quality of details you include in the report and its quantity. Before including any piece of information, you need to ensure it will add value to the report and help your readers understand it better.
- Give the readers your reasons
Another factor to take care of in your lab report writing is explaining the rationale behind your methods and procedures. You need to let your readers know why you used a certain method or methods as opposed to others. This way, you will be in a better position to tackle your critics. In addition, explaining your rationale also tells your instructors that you clearly understand what you were doing and why you did things the way you did them. Moreover, your rationale shows that you are not a robot but an independent thinker who has what it takes to engage in real science.
- Be descriptive
Another way of ensuring that you present your readers with the best content is giving it a strong descriptive approach. When writing lab reports, this approach is more needful when it comes to presenting the steps and procedures you used while conducting your experiments. Using elaborate description allows your readers to have a clear picture of the process that led to the product you are presenting to them in the form of results. You should also give a detailed description of your entire process so that any other person can use it to reproduce the same results should they decide to repeat the experiment. Lastly, you can describe these details by use of figures and diagrams.
- Mind your introduction
The introduction of your report is its heart, and hence, you need to approach it cautiously. This single but important paragraph will give your reader the background information they need to understand your report. You should ensure that you have stated your purpose and hypothesis in this section of your paper. This way, your reader starts reading your report on a strong footing of understanding since they have a clear glimpse of where you are taking them.
Tips on handling the styling and structure of your report
The last section we shall examine in this post is this critical area touching on the styling and structuring of your report. Here are some valuable tips that will help you to adhere to the styling requirements of your lab report writing.
- Use the past tense
When writing a lab report, you are telling readers what you did, and hence you need to write a paper in the past tense. At times, it can be challenging for students because they easily find themselves repeating the instructions they used to perform the experiment. For instance, it is common for a student to write, “Add 5 table spoons of sodium chloride” instead of writing, “We added 5 table spoons of sodium chloride.”
- Give it a narrative blend
Even though a lab report is not a narrative essay, you need to approach it with the same narrative blend. You have to make it interesting by presenting a story of students who went out on an experiment trip, what they did, how they did it, and the results they got. Here, you should invoke your storytelling skills to reach to the mind of your reader. However, you need to give it a chronological format so that the reader can get a clear protocol of the process that led to the results you came up with.
- Use the active voice
Modern science students are luckier compared to their predecessors who were sentenced to using the passive voice because the words “me, I, we, and us” were considered “unscientific taboos.” But with science waking up to the reality and importance of the role proper grammar plays in communicating, you are at liberty to use the active voice to make your report more engaging and lively. For instance, it is livelier to say that, “We added 7 table spoons of element X” than it is to write, “7 table spoons of element X were added.”
Writing a lab report is one of the ways of communicating your scientific results and findings in structured manner. These reports do not just help you to get better grades, but they also help you sharpen communication skills. When writing them, you should pay attention to how you style and structure them, the way you present your content, and the preparations you make before writing. If you are keen on these three pillars, your reports will be more engaging and easy to understand by all your readers.