How to Write a Lab Report
Lab reports are formal papers that describe and analyze lab experiments. They follow a very specific format. If you study this paper carefully and follow its directions, you will find that these papers are not at all difficult and can have a positive impact on your Biology grade.
Paper formatting: The paper should be typed and double spaced. Use a standard 12 point font (do not use cute fonts or colored paper!). Except for the title and abstract – each section should have a subheading.
Title: The title should be placed at the top center of the first page. Lab reports do not need a separate title page. The title should be specific enough that the reader will know the subject of the experiment. Titles such as “Macromolecules” or “Experiment 2” are too general and not acceptable. Under the title list the names of all members of your lab group, placing an asterisk beside your name. Be certain you have the correct, full names of all members of your group.
Abstract: An abstract is a one paragraph summary of your experiment. Although it comes after the title – it is the last part you should write. It is probably the most difficult part of the report. The abstract should contain 1-2 sentences that summarize each section of the report. The main reason that points are deducted for this section is for lack of completeness. The abstract is placed under the authors names. The paragraph should be single spaced (the rest of the paper is double spaced), and it is not given a subheading.
This section is a general discussion of the main topic under investigation. The introduction should explain the theories behind the experiment. Why is this question interesting and worth investigating? You should give enough information so that your readers will understand the experiment and will know why you are doing the experiment. In writing your purpose and reasons phrases such at “the purpose of this...
Citations: You must give proper credit for any and all information that does not come from your own brain! Failure to properly cite sources will result in a failing grade. Internal citations should be used. At the end of the sentence that contains the material from an outside source, place the author’s name and the page number where the information may be found in parentheses.
All sources used will be listed in a “References” section at the end of your paper. Use standard MLA style giving complete information for each source. There is a great web page called the “Citation Machine” [http://www.landmark-project.com/citation_machine/index.php] that will generate them for you!
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