More often than not, Biology reports need to be an individual effort of the student. While it is all right to discuss the data with your friends and peers, it is recommended that you do not look at any one else's report while writing your own. You must outline together with anyone, this is especially crucial if you do not want to be held guilty for plagiarism.
First and foremost, while writing a Biology lab report
, you must write it as a research report that is going to be submitted in a journal of repute. And hence it is important that you follow a specific format while writing the report and also write it with a general audience in mind, and not just your subject instructor or examiner.
Mostly, Biology lab reports are to be typed on 11 x 8 1/2 graph paper or white paper, should maintain double-spacing and should be written/typed on only one side of the paper. While students are required to type most of the report, tabular data, equations and formulae can be hand-written.
Typically, a Biology lab report should follow the following format:
- Cover Page
- Material and Methods
The cover page of a Biology lab report must include the title of the report, author's name, the day and date of your lab practical. If you have a lab partner, then you must also include your lab partner's name on the cover page. The title is undoubtedly the most significant element of your cover page, especially as it is only the title that is going to be read by the vast majority of scientists.
An abstract is not necessary in introductory science courses; however, as you take higher-level classes, you will observe that teachers insist an abstract to be included in your reports. An abstract should follow your cover page and should precede the introduction of your lab report. It is the essence of your lab report and hence should have the gist of all the important sections of your report. This is the reason why it is best to write the abstract at the last, i.e. after the completion of all the remaining sections of your report.
The length of a Biology lab report may vary from experiment to experiment. While writing the introduction, it is best to start with general statements and should then gradually discuss specific questions and aspects associated with your study. You can start by helping the reader with background information, thus setting the context for your experiment. You can state your hypothesis at the end of your introduction, i.e. if a hypothesis is apt for your study.
Material and Methods
It is highly recommended that you start the writing of your lab report
with this section. This section is one of the most important sections of your lab report and hence needs to employ a very forthright language and style that will help the reader understand your work and experiment. By the time you start writing this section, you would have already completed your experiment, and hence this section should be written in simple past tense. As the name suggests, this section should ideally include a detailed account of all the procedure and methods that you followed during the experimentation. At the same time, it is crucial that you follow refrain from including the minute details, and just mention the details that are necessary to recreate the experiment. It is best to help the readers with the measurements used during the experiment, as it would help them duplicate the methods.
Following the materials and methods section, you should start with this section, especially as this section should present readers with the findings of your experiment. You should begin this section with text and then gradually include tables and figures in this section, if any. All the results and data should be presented coherently, and the text should be organized logically. This section must unfailingly include your general observations during the experiment, the quantitative results obtained from the experiment and the results of the statistical analysis, if any.
This is the most crucial part of any lab report. This section allows you to exhibit your originality and outstanding interpretation skills. It should not only include a statement of your expected findings, but should also help the readers understand your hypothesis and the reason behind your expectations from the experiment. You should also compare the actual results with the expected results and should analyze the differences. Refrain from blaming yourself for the unexpected results; on the other hand, discuss what you could have done differently to avoid the variances. Also analyze if any specific factor was responsible for the variances. In the end, you should recommend some experiments to the readers that can help them get further information in your line of study.
This section should unfailingly list all the literature that you cited in your report. List the references in alphabetical order.
Now that you know how to write a lab report on Biology, read on to find how counter problems in lab report writing:
- By being accurate and concise, you can avoid ambiguity in your lab-report. Just try and eliminate as many unnecessary words as possible in your writing, thus making your report crisp and exact.
- Use the scientific format suggested by your instructor. Also cautiously stick to the same format throughout the report, thus bestowing accuracy to your report.
- When it comes to lab-reports, it is best to avoid quoting. You can always paraphrase and give credit to the author of the original idea. In the same way, if you think that one entire paragraph is the idea of another author, then you can cite only once at the end of that specific paragraph.
- Use formal language, and avoid the use of conversational and colloquial tone and language.
After the completion of the first draft, read it at least twice to avoid typographical, grammar and spelling errors in your lab report.