The question of how to write the discussion section of a lab report troubles many science students. They often find themselves confused about what this part of their work should be about and how to address it. The truth is that this stage of the report is nothing different than a conclusion part in any other paper. All you have to do is to draw a line to all the work you have completed in a few coherent and brief paragraphs. Students’ job here is to tell the readers why they were doing this work, how it turned out, and whether they have received the results they were expecting to find.
Still, as simple as it sounds, many make some grave mistakes when it comes to lab report writing. Considering the importance of this final stage of the work, this shouldn’t be happening. Luckily, they can read guides like this one to explain the basics and specifics of discussion of a lab report and how to approach it.
The lab report
This type of paper requires a completely different style and approach than the majority of other writing assignments. This work requires skills in technical writing. Thus, a work like this should be precise and concise. There can’t be any fillers or transitional sentences. Everything in it serves the main goal of the work.
Such a paper should also consist of such unique elements as chapters on methods and materials used for the experiment as well as a chapter of findings and results. These two sections explain what a student was doing to receive their findings and what results they discovered in the end. Further, we will focus only on the last part of the paper, which is the conclusion (discussion). This section should analyze and summarize your entire work.
The purpose of the discussion section
So, what is the discussion section of a lab report? Before you start writing the final section of your work, you need to have a clear answer to the question of what should be included in the discussion section of a lab report and its goal. Overall, at this stage of your work, you have to make a brief summary of everything you have done so far. Often, students find it one of the hardest parts of the entire work. It is one thing to know what you are doing in the lab and how you can make everything work. It is quite different from putting all that work into words and explaining why you believe you are right about it.
Still, this part of your work is necessary. To do it right you just need to have an example of the discussion section in a lab report in front of you. Any example you can find online will have five main elements to it. The discussion section of a lab report must contain such sections as:
- Aim’s explanation.
- Summary of your results in regards to the aim.
- Validity of your results (agree or disagree with them, explain why).
- Identification of mistakes made (if any).
- Conclusion and suggestion for further research (future areas of study, improvements, different approaches).
A student needs to approach this work with precision. All of these five elements must be present, preferably in the same order as they were introduced. Here's how to write a discussion section in a lab report considering all five main stages of this work. Let’s analyze each one of them in detail.
Explain your results
The main question about this part is not about what to write for discussion on lab report but how. You know already that you need to talk about the results you have received. In fact, in your report, you had already had the results chapter, which usually goes right before the conclusion. Hence, many feel confused about how to write a discussion in a lab report when it looks like everything has been told already.
Well, you start by briefly summarizing your findings. Do not restate everything you have said previously. Just outline the most important facts you have discovered. Do nothing else but define and describe the results that you have received at the end of your experiments. Try to make it no longer than a sentence or two.
Recall the aim of your laboratory experiments
Once you have summarized the results, relate them to the aim of your work. Speak of how your findings reflect the goal of your experiment. This is the time when you recall the purpose of your work and how your results have confirmed or belied your expectations.
Often, the first and second stages can interconnect. Thus, the first few sentences can respond to both stages simultaneously.
Interpret the results
Only at this stage, you get to bring on the analysis of your results. At last, you get to interpret your findings in regards to the aim you were pursuing. At this point, you should start by stating whether your findings were accurate and valid. Hence, you have to recall what you were expecting to find in your study and compare it to your received results. Is there any difference between the predictions and reality? Have you noticed any inconsistency in your results?
You can acknowledge if the findings you received were unexpected or different from what people received in similar studies. In case such a situation has happened, you need to offer an explanation of why such a thing happened. Sometimes you could have been wrong in your predictions. In other cases, you can have made some errors in your approach. You should suggest which improvements you could make to make more accurate results in the future.
At last, you have reached the final sentences of your paper. At this point, you get to evaluate your work critically. Recount what is so important about the study you have just completed. See how the results you have found have enhanced the previous studies in the given area. Analyze what data you were missing in your experiments and why.
This is also the part where you can point out the areas in your study that need improvements. You don’t just analyze the results you have achieved. You can also talk about how this study could be conducted differently. Feel free to suggest changes in future similar studies. You can also acknowledge the possible mistakes you have made yourself and offer an alternative route to avoid those errors in the future.