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Write Lab Reports or Research Reports

What is a lab or research report?

  • A scientific lab or research report is a primary means of communication among scientists and researchers to share their findings and ideas with their peers in an organized and official manner.
  • A formal lab report describes the experiment that was performed and provides a detailed discussion of the results and how they are significant. 
  • The formal lab reports you will write as an undergraduate student are modelled on the research reports written and submitted by scientists, professors, and other researchers to professional and scientific journals.
  • Whether you are writing a lab report for a course, a graduate thesis, or a paper for publication in a scholarly research journal, the format is similar to the one described in this guide. However, because some courses have special needs, always consult your instructor to find out the particular requirements for your assignment.

How can I improve my lab or research report?

  • Lab reports are the foundation of scientific research. They allow scientists to share information and lead to new discoveries. Consider your lab report to be a part of this body of knowledge and write it effectively. Following are some general tips.
  •  A formal lab report may take several hours to write properly, so plan ahead.
  • The more depth and thought you put into the report, the better you will understand the course material that you are drawing from. 
  • Do not copy from friends. This is a form of academic misconduct that is easily detected and is subject to severe penalties. 
  • Always check with your instructor or TA for detailed instructions about the format of the report. For example, you might ask if the tables and figures should be included in the Results section or at the end of your report, or you could ask whether you can use the first-person pronoun I in writing your report. 

Resources to Help with Writing

Guide: Plagiarism and Academic IntegrityGuide: Cite Your SourcesVideo: Cite Your Sources: When / Why to Cite

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