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.
This type of assignment does not involve free-form narration and requires strict adherence to research methods. Beginners should definitely find a college lab report example. For you, it will be a convenient option that will allow you to understand the details. This is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. Let's check this out. It won't be very easy, but you should try.
The Main Steps on How to Write a Lab Report
To be honest, there is one general approach to writing such tricky tasks. That is why the subject is of secondary importance. If you want to understand how to write a pre lab report, you need to start with simple steps. There are a number of general steps to help you demonstrate your competency. As a rule, these are standard tips that you should stick to.
Pre Lab Report
Start with your paper's goals. Do you want to prove or disprove anything? Or is it your goal to experiment to try out new research methods? Describe all the steps and procedures you want to follow. This is why this is important:
- You can avoid common mistakes;
- this saves editing time;
- you can swap blocks and correct data.
Technically, this is not a prerequisite. But you will appreciate the result if you first carry out this stage.
Flowchart Is a Must
How to write a scientific lab report fast? Use a flowchart because it's one of the easiest ways to focus on structure. You will never go astray and will be able to follow your plan. This saves time and keeps you from being distracted by minor aspects while working.
Don’t Forget About Data Taking
Let's say you have a microbiology lab report template but do not know how to repeat all the steps correctly. You need to take notes. Keep short notes of all the steps and what happens after your actions. It is best to take a pen and paper and stick to a clear sequence.
Then you will not delete an important block of data by mistake. Create a diagram of points and take notes after each successful stage of your research. And do not forget about a detailed description of reagents, materials, temperatures, and any data that critically affects the final result.
How about the important steps to writing a lab report? Once you have completed the exploratory part, it is time to grab a pen or keyboard to document each point. It is worth noting that many professors demand to include research results and graphs or tables with the data obtained.
Do not forget that your task is to explain in detail all your actions. Write about the beginning of the tests, all the materials used, and summarize, indicating the results and patterns. Your APA lab report format must meet all the requirements of your professor.
It's time to talk about the final part. Now you know all the steps to write a lab report. It’s time to proceed with a strong conclusion. Consider this a summary of all the previous steps. You should summarize your actions and remind yourself of the details.
This part will describe any deviations or unexpected results you have achieved during laboratory tests. If your tests failed, you could write about your plans to adjust the research processes.
The Main Sections
Successful research is not enough to get a good grade. First of all, you shouldn't forget about the college lab report format. Here are the most crucial parts to keep in mind. There are several sections that are found in almost any type of such task. It’s easy enough to understand. Familiarize yourself with the basic parameters, and you will have a clear understanding of how you should start writing.
This part is crucial. Typically, you will have to provide the date and all participants in the experiment. Treat this part with full responsibility, as the slightest inaccuracy will negatively affect the grades. By the way, you can skip this part and come back when you're about 70-80% finished. Then you will have a clear understanding of what needs to be corrected.
A title should be, in some way, a reflection on your thesis statement. Often, a page with a title should have the name on top, with the name of the student, class, and instructor’s name placed on the bottom. It’s better to consult with your professor about the title page’s specifics.
Let's say you know how to write a background for a lab report. But don't forget the abstract. This is like an annotation where the data details, test methods, and theoretical basis are indicated. Try to summarize all key aspects briefly without going into detailed explanations of all actions. You will have the opportunity to describe the entire research process later. You will soon learn how to write a good conclusion for a lab report. All you need now is a small summary of your actions. And you shouldn't rush. Analyze all the facts you have and get down to work.
What Is an Abstract in a Lab Report?
Abstracts are short paragraphs serving to sum up a much more extended paper (a lab report, for instance). The main purpose of that paragraph is to let the person going to read the report itself (your professor or supervisor) know about things they will find in its contents. If you then decide to continue your career as a field researcher, being familiar with the abstract in report writing will be a significant advantage. These brief paragraphs show a potential reader whether they will find something relevant to their projects in your report.
A worthy example of an abstract in a lab report contains the info about:
- the field of research;
- purposes it pursued;
- outcomes received;
- work contents.
Abstracts can be informational and descriptive. No, they are not the same. The difference is substantial.
An informational abstract is about details. Its content includes the lab report summary with all the focus points, such as the experiment objective, methodology, outcomes, discussion, and concluding results.
A descriptive abstract is much less detailed if you compare it with an informational one. As a consequence, it is less wordy (normally between 100 and 200 words) and paying attention exclusively to the key features and points. In a descriptive abstract, you may omit coming up with such things as outcomes, summaries, or discussions. However, you should mention the main goal and the experiment methods here.
Which One to Pick?
Is there a way to find out how to write an abstract for a lab report depending on the type? Yes, and clarifying the type is relatively simple. The quickest solution is to consult with your supervisor or professor.
Sometimes, the type of abstract is not given in the requirements. If that is your case, consider paying attention to the field and length of the report you’ve got. For instance, while deciding how to write an abstract for a lab report, you’ll most probably want to go in for an informational type that is longer and more specific.
How to Write a Lab Report Abstract: Steps to Consider
So, what is the abstract in a lab report? In fact, that shouldn’t be a confusing question for you after you read the previous part of this guide. If so, then, finally, you are ready to start writing it. The following recommendations are called to help you pass through the entire way.
Research Question Picked Correctly
This is essential. Make sure the chosen question is practicable. Additionally, it should be possible to measure. Still, narrowing the question down is vital, too. And, of course, it is perfect if the topic you picked for research is meaningful to the scientific area.
Don’t Rush With an Abstract
It is wise to wait till the lab report itself is finished before you start even thinking about abstract writing. That is the way for you to make it clearly understandable and maximally precise. Additionally, an existing report is a ready-made reference making it significantly simpler to finalize a worthy abstract.
Begin With Essentials
To craft an abstract that is effective, you should come up with clear answers to your research questions. Did you prove your hypotheses? If not, it will be extremely challenging to explain why the results matter a lot and why the entire report deserves attention.
Keep It Formal
An unbiased academic manner is a must. A third-person viewpoint and the past tense are critical. Be attentive to this.
Edit and Proofread Attentively
No comments. Grammar, spelling, orthography, and punctuation of any academic paper should be ideal. That is relevant for an abstract, too. If there are silly errors in an abstract, then the lab report itself is probably not worth reading too – that’s what your professor or reader might think.
Know Formatting Requirements for Your Abstract of a Lab Report
What is an abstract of a lab report without a format kept? It’s a pointless piece of writing for an academic audience. Regardless of the subject of your report, it is crucial to get acquainted with the guides your professor wants you to apply. Usually, those are pretty standardized, but there always is a probability for your prof to be special. Keep that in mind and read manuals attentively.
Do Not Write Too Much
How long should the abstract be? Two hundred words is a standard length. In case you need an informative one, that number may grow up to 500. However, it is critical for you to be able to describe the essentials of your report in the shortest way possible.
What Does Abstract Means in a Science Project?
It is hard to overestimate the importance of an abstract here. A carelessly written abstract section can make even the most outstanding report, research, or dissertation look unprofessional and weird.
So, don’t write your abstracts aiming just to slap random sentences together. Take time to think over their contents, and make your lab reports shine!
Unlike the previous part, in writing a lab report introduction, you have the opportunity to briefly describe what research you did and how many stages you needed. Also, you shouldn't forget about the hypothesis. Indicate this and describe what the essence of your test is and what goals you are pursuing. This is even more important than how to write a good lab conclusion. And this is the starting point for your task.
What Makes a Good Introduction for a Lab Report
Before you even ask yourself about how to write a good introduction for a lab report, think of what makes a good introduction in general. You need to have a hook, thesis, and general information about the subject of discussion.
When it comes to a report introduction, though, things can be a little bit different. Often, this part of the paper is replaced or combined with the purpose of the experiment. Hence, a student must include much more information in this first paragraph of the work than one usually does. As your entire paper is centered around the work you have made in the laboratory, you need to emphasize the importance of your study.
Thus, what goes in the introduction of a lab report is this:
- introductory hook;
- explanation of the topic (background information);
- brief summary of the lab experiment;
- thesis statement;
- purpose of study;
- list of findings;
- summary of the experiment;
- conclusions of the study;
- literature review.
Now, a student may not use all of these elements in their first paragraph. However, certain elements on that list should be present in any introduction to a lab report. Those elements are the background information, purpose, and reasons why you have chosen it (a thesis statement).
How to Write Introduction for Lab Report
When you think about how to write the introduction of a lab report, you should think of the purpose first. Usually, this element is somewhere at the end of the paragraph. However, since it is so important, you need to start by defining your study’s clear purpose and hypothesis. Next, you need to explain why you have decided to conduct this particular study. Give some background, perhaps add references from previous similar studies, and define your expectations.
Finally, move on to explaining the nature of your experiment. Describe how it went, what you have found, and what the received results mean. Draw a brief conclusion of your experiment. All of this information must be only a few sentences long. It will be enough to outline the nature of your study and create certain expectations among your readers.
Why Can It Get so Hard?
There is a good reason why writing the first sentences in a paper can become a true challenge for students. It is always hard to start. A student needs to find their voice, the tone for the work and combine all the necessary elements to make a good first impression with their first paragraph. Such a task puts them under a lot of pressure. It may be especially true for inexperienced students in writing, as it is common for science students, for instance.
So how to get over that fear and learn how to write a lab report introduction without worries? Well, one way to achieve it is by learning all the rules of writing it and following them religiously. Truly, the more you are inclined to do everything by the book, the fewer areas to make errors you leave for yourself. However, every work is different, so the expectations and guidelines may change. Besides, not all students can see how to apply those rules in real life.
Hence, the next great tip we can give you is to write your first paragraph last. Truly, the fact that an introduction must be the first in the text doesn’t mean you have to write it first. Go ahead and start with the meaty parts of your paper. Explain the nature of your experiment, discuss your findings, compare results, and draw a conclusion. Add the first paragraph along with the last one. It is easy to do as your conclusion must always correlate with what you have stated in the very beginning. Still, you’ll need to identify your purpose and thesis statement before you start writing everything else.
This part will allow you to decide what to put in the conclusion of a lab report. Rely solely on facts and indicate which research methods or approaches you have adapted. And don't forget about the tone of voice. This is not an essay. You must describe point by point every step you did and what it led to. Try to stick to chronological order.
Precision and accuracy in this part of your work are absolutely crucial. You have to document every little detail that made it to your experiment. Thus, you need to share the right measurements, sizes, quantities, techniques, etc. Though, just making a list of things you are using for the experiment is not enough. You need to guide readers through the entire process. Thus, write down how and in which order you are using those materials.
Although you should not be overbearing to your readers with too much information here. Instead, you should create a clear guide on how you complete your study. Thus, any other student who wants to use your work in their studies can easily repeat your experiment, following the method section you wrote.
Most likely, you have used several materials to test certain processes or to confirm your hypothesis. Describe it in this section. Be as scrupulous as possible, and do not forget about accurate data. This will help you sum up your research and understand how to write a science lab conclusion.
This is one of the main sections as you are going to describe the step-by-step actions. It is something like a detailed retelling of all that you have done in the laboratory. How to write a procedure for a lab report? Find a sample and check how it is implemented in practice. But do not try to shorten this section too much, as you may delete important data. Without this, you will not understand how to write a conclusion for a lab.
Typically, students will receive several questions to be answered in this section. But you shouldn't turn this into a FAQ. Combine your research results with the answers to the questions. Your main task is to form some kind of logical lab report discussion of the problem or research subject.
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 in 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.
You will most likely need to draw on some research experience during the practical and theoretical parts of your paper. This will help you to find the answer to the question, “How to write a lab conclusion?” But do not forget to include links to the data or research that you used or mentioned in any paragraph.
How to Pick a Right Format?
Typically, you will have to stick to the overall style and the general formatting options. This is not difficult. Keep track of your margins, font, and pagination. Don’t forget to stick to a clear, logical structure and not skip a single item. How to write a lab conclusion? This section should sum up all the stages of your research.
Try to answer the main question for which you spent a lot of time analyzing data. It's best if you take a good sample and learn how other people have done the job. It's worth noting that you don't have to look for the most similar topic or subject. Pay attention to the conciseness and general specifics. Then you can count on good grades.