Plan Your Assignment

MM/DD/YYYY (e.g. 12/31/2020)
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1: Understand assignment. Attend lab and complete experiment.
  • Before lab:
    • Read over lab assignment in advance. 
    • Define your objectives, prediction or hypothesis.
    • Summarize your expected outcomes.
    • If needed, do brief literature search to understand context around experiment. 
  • During lab: Take detailed notes on procedures and results and note any differences in procedures or expected outcomes. Record enough detail to allow someone else to repeat experiment based on your notes.
  • As you write your report be aware of the style of scientific writing in your discipline and grammar.

Note: This is most useful for lab reports which are based on IMRAD (introduction, methods, results and discussion). Each discipline, course, and instructor may require a different format and style for the lab report. Be sure to tailor these general steps to your specific assignment and talk to your instructor if you have questions.

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2: Describe materials and methods.
  • Briefly explain overall procedures. List materials and equipment used.
  • Explain in detail the steps in the experiment including sub-headings, if needed. Be specific so another student could replicate the experiment.
  • Do not include results.
  • Include lab notes, if required.
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3: Analyze and describe results.
  • Analyze data collected or observed.
  • Report major results with no interpretation.
  • Create data tables, graphs, or charts to clearly display results include labels, units and descriptions.
  • Use subheadings.
  • Do not make up or modify data if results are different than you expected.* 
  • Explain possible causes of unexpected results.

*Note: Fabricating or falsifying data is considered Scholastic Dishonesty in the Student Conduct Code.

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4: Conduct library research. Develop introduction.


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5: Interpret and synthesize results in the discussion and conclusion.
  • Refer to your hypothesis, outcomes or predictions as you discuss conclusions. 
  • Support each conclusion with evidence from your experiment. Describe your rationale for your conclusions and any patterns or relationship your results demonstrate.
  • Compare results to the expected results and to those found in the literature (include citations).
  • Discuss the limitations of your experiment: what can't you conclude? What other interpretations may be correct? What were the limits of the methods you used?
  • Discuss how your results fit into a broader context such as practical applications or other situations, species, systems, etc. 
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6: Write abstract. Develop a title. Revise and rewrite.
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7: Put lab report in final form.


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