If you study chemistry or biology, then you know how annoying college lab reports might be. Needless to say a scientific lab report outline is even more complicated, so you need to know how to create an outline for a lab report to deal with them successfully and often students are interested in. If you are still in high-school and wonder what kind of assignment it is, it is worth saying that this writing features the results of an experiment carried out by you. In this paper, you have to present a hypothesis, the aim of the investigation, the procedure, results, their analysis and how they can be used for further research. Let’s analyze this simplified lab report outline in greater detail.
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An Example of College Lab Report Outline
If you’ve wondered, this sample formal lab report outline should answer most of your questions.
I. Title Page
This one is filled according to the requirements you get from your professor.
is a short overview of your lab report. A 150-250 word presentation of your work to the reader. It should give your audience an understanding of why your experiment was needed, how you conducted it, and what they should expect from the results.
III. Table of Contents
Remember these two questions “What?” and “Why?” as your introduction should answer both of them. Tell the reader what you were aiming at while carrying out the experiment, and why you wanted to find that out. Having provided enough reasoning, your readers will be motivated to proceed with reading the report.
This is the “How” section. Briefly describe the whole experiment. Enlist the tools you’d used and what for. Finally, explain the experiment procedure, as a step-by-step guide. This is crucial since anyone knowledgeable should be able to repeat your experiment with having only your lab report.
Present your findings here. Use graphs and tables to present the results. Treat those as illustrations to the story you are telling your readers.
VII. Analysis, discussion, conclusion.
Here, analyze your findings from the theoretical point of view. Explain and interpret them, so the readers can come to conclusions similar to yours. Give your opinion on the matter, but don’t forget to back it up with your findings. Describe any difficulties you’ve had, and how they could have or could not have been avoided. Give possible improvements to your experiment. Describe how the results can be used in future research.
Include every theoretical piece or other findings you’ve referred to in your report.
Any raw data that could not be fitted in the report.
This sample lab report outline should give you a basic understanding of the formal requirements you will have to fulfill when dealing with this type of work.
Ideas for Informal Lab Report Outline
If you are lucky enough and your professor gave you an informal lab report to write, then you don’t have to worry about! The most pleasant thing about it is you don’t have to give a lengthy theoretical background that is related to your experiment.
Right after the title page, give an introduction that describes the purpose of your experiment and the report at hand. Give explanations of terms you are going to use. For example, if you study polycarbonates, then simply describe what it is, and what its properties are.
Proceed with the hypotheses, though avoid using the first-person narrative at all costs. NEVER say “I assume,” used passive voice instead: “Based on the properties of the material, an assumption was made…”
Describe the equipment and materials you’ve used in your experiment. Remember that all data should have its purpose, don’t mention things for the sake of mentioning them.
Detailed, step-by-step procedure description. Remember that anyone should be able to repeat your experiment using your lab report only.
Present your findings logically. Back up everything you claim with charts, graphs, calculations, etc. If you have a list of lab questions, give answers to them in this section.
Analysis and Discussion. Analyze what you think might’ve gone wrong and how it could have been avoided. Discuss the findings. Dwell on every step of your experiment, say what you observed, what conclusions you’ve made, etc. Restate the hypotheses and give your opinion on whether your experiment was successful or not.
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Hopefully, the above lab report outline answered the questions you might have had. As you see, this task is not that frightening if you know what you are doing. Always remember that you can account for help if you do not seem to handle the task on your own. Stop worrying about the question “Can I“!