Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, Parkville

Laboratory Report
The following is a general format for lab reports that you can adapt as needed. Lab reports are the most frequent kind of documents written in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science and it is not unusual for your Lecturer to ask you to provide him or her with a variation of this style. Regardless of variations, however, the goal of lab reports remains the same: document your findings and communicate their significance. With that in mind, we can describe the report's format and basic components. Knowing the pieces and purpose, you can adapt to the particular needs of a course or professor. A good lab report does more than present data; it demonstrates the writer's understanding of the concepts behind the data. Merely recording the expected and observed results is not sufficient; you should also identify how and why differences occurred, explain how they affected your experiment, and show your understanding of the principles the experiment was designed to examine.

Typical Components of a Lab Report
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. The Title Page The Abstract The Introduction The Materials and Methods Section (Equipment) Experimental Procedure (The Data and Analysis Section) Results The Discussion Section The Conclusion The References Appendices


It is a single sentence fragment (no verb) that describes your experimental objective and gives some indication of the method (procedure). e. Purpose of the experiment 2.1. The Abstract The abstract summarizes four essential aspects of the report: 1. informative. & major conclusions. the names of lab partners. or formulas the reader needs to know. A good introduction must include: 1. The purpose of the report is… & The reactions are… ■ 2 . & it may include a description of specialised equipment and a justification of the experiment’s importance A good introduction provides background theory. therefore. ■ The experiment is already finished so use the past tense when talking about the experiment e. It is one-paragraph summary of the entire experiment . the purpose of the experiment (sometimes expressed as the purpose of the report) 2.. key findings 3. results. The report. the theory and permanent equipment still exist. and the date. Important background and/or theory 3..procedure.Introductions often create difficulties for students who struggle with keeping verb tenses straight.g.g. In one or two sentences state the topic of your report clearly & concisely. The Introduction The introduction states the objective of the experiment & a background to the experiment. For extensive Lab Reports consider adding subheadings such as: Theoretical Principles or Background. & analysis. and less than ten words. previous research. The final sentence (the thesis statement) is the objective of your experiment. Titles should be straightforward. 2. The objective of the experiment was. Note on Verb Tense . 3. significance 4. In it you must show your own comprehension of the problem. use the present tense. The Title Page The title page needs to contain the name of the experiment.

g. In most cases. 3. This is about your data. e. Graphics need to be clear. Figure 1: Input Frequency and Capacitor Value). does not exceed a concentration of approximately 0. 6. Note that this section is only for data that you observed or measured directly. as you observed/recorded it. It is therefore unlikely that the water main pipe break was the result of sulfide-induced corrosion. and well labelled (e. Experimental Procedure The Experimental Procedure accurately describes & explains all steps in the order they actually happened. therefore sulfide. Your analysis (including calculations) belongs in the Discussion section. not as they were supposed to happen. 2. The Discussion focuses on a question of understanding "What is the significance or meaning of the results?" To answer this question. In more in-depth Lab Reports the Methods & Materials Section is a detailed description (in paragraph format) of the procedure for your experiment. tables and figures & all significant results need to be stated explicitly in verbal form. It is about what is not readily observable. Results The results are usually dominated by calculations. use both aspects of discussion: Analysis .4. Use a sentence or two to draw attention to key points in tables or graphs. Refer to appendices as necessary. 3 . Simply direct the reader to a lab manual or standard procedure e. Since none of the samples reacted to the Silver foil test. 7. Discussion The discussion is the most important part of your report where you show that you understand the experiment beyond the simple level of completing it. Likewise. raw data can be placed in an appendix. providing a sample calculation is sufficient in the report.025 g/l. Number and Title tables and graphs. for example: 1. Methods and Materials (or Equipment) The methods and materials is an accurate and complete but simple list. Leave the remainder in an appendix. Equipment was set up as in CHE 276 manual. easily read.What do the results clearly indicate? What have you found? Explain what you know with certainty based on your results and draw conclusions.g. By following your procedure to the letter.g. if present at all. another researcher should be able to duplicate your experiment. Provide sample calculation only & state key results in sentence form. 5.

graphs pictures or tables that have not been included in the report itself. equipment failure. as a result of the lab. 9. 10. Analyse the strengths and limitations of your experimental design. How well has the theory been illustrated? Relate results to your experimental objective(s). ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ This is your calculations. Although the water samples were received on 14 August 2000. In this section move from the results to the theory. The effect of the delay is unknown. Appendices The Appendices typically include such elements as raw data. a circuit). how can you account for them? Be specific. Each kind of item should be contained in a separate appendix. testing could not be started until 10 September 2000. If the flaws result from the experimental design explain how the design might be improved e. the sample was not pure or was contaminated. Conclusion The conclusion can be very short and simply restates the objective from your introduction and relates it to your results and discussion. Simply state what you know now for sure.g. and provide a justification. If you set out to identify an unknown metal by finding its lattice parameter and its atomic structure. Compare your results to similar investigations. This is particularly useful if you designed the thing you're testing (e. Make sure you refer to each appendix at least once in your report. not to change your answer. avoidable mistakes etc. an analysis of what your results mean.g. Labs are often intended to illustrate important physical laws. This is enough. Focus your discussion with some of the following strategies: ■ Compare expected results with those obtained. and your error analysis. however. It is legitimate to compare outcomes with other research. 4 . This is a list of all of the sources you got information from in your report.Interpretation -What is the significance of the results? What ambiguities exist? What questions might we raise? Find logical explanations for problems in the data e. e. you'd better know the metal and its attributes. calculations. the instruments could not measure precisely. 8. or calculated values did not take account of friction.g. future work that needs to be done. Analyse experimental error. It is normally desirable to test as quickly as possible after sampling in order to avoid potential sample contamination. or what the implications of your conclusion are. Explain your results in terms of theoretical issues. the conclusion might also be a place to discuss weaknesses of experimental design. References The references include your lab manual and any outside reading you have done. but to look for any anomalies between the groups and discuss those.g. If there were differences.

passive voice is preferred when describing experimental protocols e.com/documents/report-style-guide. “…ammonia and hydrochloric acid react to produce ammonium chloride gas”.g. tutor and Library staff (Learning Skills Advisor.utoronto. When writing about things you did. as an original & adapted from works by: Pavia. Kate.g. Queeney.science. Donald L.htm (accessed June 2004) Simpson. use the past tense e. Learning Skills Adviser. 16-22.edu/departments/Chem/Courses/labreports. Library.. Rather. Verb Tense Lab reports are written in a combination of past and present tense. use the present tense for trends and properties e. Works Cited Written for the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science by Barry McElgunn.html (accessed June 2004) http://www.00 g) was added…” Miscellany Always follow the same rules of formal English grammar and usage. (Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing. Your lecturer.” rather than “We heated the solution to 100º C for 25 minutes”. “The solution was heated to 100º C for 25 minutes. Bill. 1990).edu/chem/434f02/prep/acs guide. Guidelines for Writing a Formal Laboratory Report.5 line spacing diagrams may be handwritten as long as they are neat and legible include a cover page ■ ■ Stylistic Points No 1st or 2nd person Pronouns In formal writing never use the first or second person.g.uaf.ca/~writing/handbook-lab. Pp. Introduction to Organic Laboratory Techniques. Ariel or New Times Roman.mrbigler. start with the substance. Gary M. Numbers at the Beginning of Sentences Never start a sentence with a number. “The solution was heated to 100º C for 25 minutes. and Randall G.” However. and put the exact amount in parentheses. George S. Laboratory Report Style. http://www. “Salicylic acid (1.PDF http://www. Engel. e.html 5 .. http://www.g.ecf. Kriz.Rules Lab reports must: ■ be typed on a computer in font 12.smith. such as the details of your procedure and the results that you observed. Subject & Reference librarians) are there to help. 1. A Microscale Approach. Lampman.

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