Writing an Introduction for a Scientific Paper
Dr. michelle harris, dr. janet batzli, biocore.
This section provides guidelines on how to construct a solid introduction to a scientific paper including background information, study question , biological rationale, hypothesis , and general approach . If the Introduction is done well, there should be no question in the reader’s mind why and on what basis you have posed a specific hypothesis.
Broad Question : based on an initial observation (e.g., “I see a lot of guppies close to the shore. Do guppies like living in shallow water?”). This observation of the natural world may inspire you to investigate background literature or your observation could be based on previous research by others or your own pilot study. Broad questions are not always included in your written text, but are essential for establishing the direction of your research.
Background Information : key issues, concepts, terminology, and definitions needed to understand the biological rationale for the experiment. It often includes a summary of findings from previous, relevant studies. Remember to cite references, be concise, and only include relevant information given your audience and your experimental design. Concisely summarized background information leads to the identification of specific scientific knowledge gaps that still exist. (e.g., “No studies to date have examined whether guppies do indeed spend more time in shallow water.”)
Testable Question : these questions are much more focused than the initial broad question, are specific to the knowledge gap identified, and can be addressed with data. (e.g., “Do guppies spend different amounts of time in water <1 meter deep as compared to their time in water that is >1 meter deep?”)
Biological Rationale : describes the purpose of your experiment distilling what is known and what is not known that defines the knowledge gap that you are addressing. The “BR” provides the logic for your hypothesis and experimental approach, describing the biological mechanism and assumptions that explain why your hypothesis should be true.
The biological rationale is based on your interpretation of the scientific literature, your personal observations, and the underlying assumptions you are making about how you think the system works. If you have written your biological rationale, your reader should see your hypothesis in your introduction section and say to themselves, “Of course, this hypothesis seems very logical based on the rationale presented.”
- A thorough rationale defines your assumptions about the system that have not been revealed in scientific literature or from previous systematic observation. These assumptions drive the direction of your specific hypothesis or general predictions.
- Defining the rationale is probably the most critical task for a writer, as it tells your reader why your research is biologically meaningful. It may help to think about the rationale as an answer to the questions— how is this investigation related to what we know, what assumptions am I making about what we don’t yet know, AND how will this experiment add to our knowledge? *There may or may not be broader implications for your study; be careful not to overstate these (see note on social justifications below).
- Expect to spend time and mental effort on this. You may have to do considerable digging into the scientific literature to define how your experiment fits into what is already known and why it is relevant to pursue.
- Be open to the possibility that as you work with and think about your data, you may develop a deeper, more accurate understanding of the experimental system. You may find the original rationale needs to be revised to reflect your new, more sophisticated understanding.
- As you progress through Biocore and upper level biology courses, your rationale should become more focused and matched with the level of study e ., cellular, biochemical, or physiological mechanisms that underlie the rationale. Achieving this type of understanding takes effort, but it will lead to better communication of your science.
***Special note on avoiding social justifications: You should not overemphasize the relevance of your experiment and the possible connections to large-scale processes. Be realistic and logical —do not overgeneralize or state grand implications that are not sensible given the structure of your experimental system. Not all science is easily applied to improving the human condition. Performing an investigation just for the sake of adding to our scientific knowledge (“pure or basic science”) is just as important as applied science. In fact, basic science often provides the foundation for applied studies.
Hypothesis / Predictions : specific prediction(s) that you will test during your experiment. For manipulative experiments, the hypothesis should include the independent variable (what you manipulate), the dependent variable(s) (what you measure), the organism or system , the direction of your results, and comparison to be made.
If you are doing a systematic observation , your hypothesis presents a variable or set of variables that you predict are important for helping you characterize the system as a whole, or predict differences between components/areas of the system that help you explain how the system functions or changes over time.
Experimental Approach : Briefly gives the reader a general sense of the experiment, the type of data it will yield, and the kind of conclusions you expect to obtain from the data. Do not confuse the experimental approach with the experimental protocol . The experimental protocol consists of the detailed step-by-step procedures and techniques used during the experiment that are to be reported in the Methods and Materials section.
Some Final Tips on Writing an Introduction
- As you progress through the Biocore sequence, for instance, from organismal level of Biocore 301/302 to the cellular level in Biocore 303/304, we expect the contents of your “Introduction” paragraphs to reflect the level of your coursework and previous writing experience. For example, in Biocore 304 (Cell Biology Lab) biological rationale should draw upon assumptions we are making about cellular and biochemical processes.
- Be Concise yet Specific: Remember to be concise and only include relevant information given your audience and your experimental design. As you write, keep asking, “Is this necessary information or is this irrelevant detail?” For example, if you are writing a paper claiming that a certain compound is a competitive inhibitor to the enzyme alkaline phosphatase and acts by binding to the active site, you need to explain (briefly) Michaelis-Menton kinetics and the meaning and significance of Km and Vmax. This explanation is not necessary if you are reporting the dependence of enzyme activity on pH because you do not need to measure Km and Vmax to get an estimate of enzyme activity.
- Another example: if you are writing a paper reporting an increase in Daphnia magna heart rate upon exposure to caffeine you need not describe the reproductive cycle of magna unless it is germane to your results and discussion. Be specific and concrete, especially when making introductory or summary statements.
Where Do You Discuss Pilot Studies? Many times it is important to do pilot studies to help you get familiar with your experimental system or to improve your experimental design. If your pilot study influences your biological rationale or hypothesis, you need to describe it in your Introduction. If your pilot study simply informs the logistics or techniques, but does not influence your rationale, then the description of your pilot study belongs in the Materials and Methods section.
How will introductions be evaluated? The following is part of the rubric we will be using to evaluate your papers.
How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries? pp 193–199 Cite as
How to Write the Introduction to a Scientific Paper?
- Samiran Nundy 4 ,
- Atul Kakar 5 &
- Zulfiqar A. Bhutta 6
- Open Access
- First Online: 24 October 2021
An Introduction to a scientific paper familiarizes the reader with the background of the issue at hand. It must reflect why the issue is topical and its current importance in the vast sea of research being done globally. It lays the foundation of biomedical writing and is the first portion of an article according to the IMRAD pattern ( I ntroduction, M ethodology, R esults, a nd D iscussion) .
I once had a professor tell a class that he sifted through our pile of essays, glancing at the titles and introductions, looking for something that grabbed his attention. Everything else went to the bottom of the pile to be read last, when he was tired and probably grumpy from all the marking. Don’t get put at the bottom of the pile, he said. Anonymous
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1 What is the Importance of an Introduction?
An Introduction to a scientific paper familiarizes the reader with the background of the issue at hand. It must reflect why the issue is topical and its current importance in the vast sea of research being done globally. It lays the foundation of biomedical writing and is the first portion of an article according to the IMRAD pattern ( I ntroduction, M ethodology, R esults, a nd D iscussion) [ 1 ].
It provides the flavour of the article and many authors have used phrases to describe it for example—'like a gate of the city’ [ 2 ], ‘the beginning is half of the whole’ [ 3 ], ‘an introduction is not just wrestling with words to fit the facts, but it also strongly modulated by perception of the anticipated reactions of peer colleagues’, [ 4 ] and ‘an introduction is like the trailer to a movie’. A good introduction helps captivate the reader early.
2 What Are the Principles of Writing a Good Introduction?
A good introduction will ‘sell’ an article to a journal editor, reviewer, and finally to a reader [ 3 ]. It should contain the following information [ 5 , 6 ]:
The known—The background scientific data
The unknown—Gaps in the current knowledge
Research hypothesis or question
Methodologies used for the study
The known consist of citations from a review of the literature whereas the unknown is the new work to be undertaken. This part should address how your work is the required missing piece of the puzzle.
3 What Are the Models of Writing an Introduction?
The Problem-solving model
First described by Swales et al. in 1979, in this model the writer should identify the ‘problem’ in the research, address the ‘solution’ and also write about ‘the criteria for evaluating the problem’ [ 7 , 8 ].
The CARS model that stands for C reating A R esearch S pace [ 9 , 10 ].
The two important components of this model are:
Establishing a territory (situation)
Establishing a niche (problem)
Occupying a niche (the solution)
In this popular model, one can add a fourth point, i.e., a conclusion [ 10 ].
4 What Is Establishing a Territory?
This includes: [ 9 ]
Stating the general topic and providing some background about it.
Providing a brief and relevant review of the literature related to the topic.
Adding a paragraph on the scope of the topic including the need for your study.
5 What Is Establishing a Niche?
Establishing a niche includes:
Stating the importance of the problem.
Outlining the current situation regarding the problem citing both global and national data.
Evaluating the current situation (advantages/ disadvantages).
Identifying the gaps.
Emphasizing the importance of the proposed research and how the gaps will be addressed.
Stating the research problem/ questions.
Stating the hypotheses briefly.
Figure 17.1 depicts how the introduction needs to be written. A scientific paper should have an introduction in the form of an inverted pyramid. The writer should start with the general information about the topic and subsequently narrow it down to the specific topic-related introduction.
Flow of ideas from the general to the specific
6 What Does Occupying a Niche Mean?
This is the third portion of the introduction and defines the rationale of the research and states the research question. If this is missing the reviewers will not understand the logic for publication and is a common reason for rejection [ 11 , 12 ]. An example of this is given below:
Till date, no study has been done to see the effectiveness of a mesh alone or the effectiveness of double suturing along with a mesh in the closure of an umbilical hernia regarding the incidence of failure. So, the present study is aimed at comparing the effectiveness of a mesh alone versus the double suturing technique along with a mesh.
7 How Long Should the Introduction Be?
For a project protocol, the introduction should be about 1–2 pages long and for a thesis it should be 3–5 pages in a double-spaced typed setting. For a scientific paper it should be less than 10–15% of the total length of the manuscript [ 13 , 14 ].
8 How Many References Should an Introduction Have?
All sections in a scientific manuscript except the conclusion should contain references. It has been suggested that an introduction should have four or five or at the most one-third of the references in the whole paper [ 15 ].
9 What Are the Important Points Which Should be not Missed in an Introduction?
An introduction paves the way forward for the subsequent sections of the article. Frequently well-planned studies are rejected by journals during review because of the simple reason that the authors failed to clarify the data in this section to justify the study [ 16 , 17 ]. Thus, the existing gap in knowledge should be clearly brought out in this section (Fig. 17.2 ).
How should the abstract, introduction, and discussion look
The following points are important to consider:
The introduction should be written in simple sentences and in the present tense.
Many of the terms will be introduced in this section for the first time and these will require abbreviations to be used later.
The references in this section should be to papers published in quality journals (e.g., having a high impact factor).
The aims, problems, and hypotheses should be clearly mentioned.
Start with a generalization on the topic and go on to specific information relevant to your research.
10 Example of an Introduction
An Introduction is a brief account of what the study is about. It should be short, crisp, and complete.
It has to move from a general to a specific research topic and must include the need for the present study.
The Introduction should include data from a literature search, i.e., what is already known about this subject and progress to what we hope to add to this knowledge.
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Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplantation, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India
Department of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India
Institute for Global Health and Development, The Aga Khan University, South Central Asia, East Africa and United Kingdom, Karachi, Pakistan
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta
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Nundy, S., Kakar, A., Bhutta, Z.A. (2022). How to Write the Introduction to a Scientific Paper?. In: How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries?. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-5248-6_17
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-5248-6_17
Published : 24 October 2021
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Writing up the results from an experiment can be difficult, as the nature of scientific research requires rigorous testing techniques and accurate recordings of data. The scientific report allows researchers to record their findings and publish them out into the world, expanding on the area of expertise. So, what comprises a scientific report?We are going to establish and explore scientific…
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Writing up the results from an experiment can be difficult, as the nature of scientific research requires rigorous testing techniques and accurate recordings of data. The scientific report allows researchers to record their findings and publish them out into the world, expanding on the area of expertise. So, what comprises a scientific report?
- We are going to establish and explore scientific reports in psychological research.
- We will start by looking at scientific reports in psychology and how scientific report writing should be conducted.
- Then we will explore the scientific report structure, including the introduction, method, results, scientific report conclusion and discussion.
- Finally, we will delve into scientific report examples.
Scientific Reports: Psychology
Research can be identified as primary or secondary research; whether the researcher collects the data used for analysis or uses previously published findings determines this. The different types of research produce different types of scientific reports, such as:
Primary research is data collected from the researcher, e.g., when carrying out an experiment.
For example, a laboratory produces a primary scientific psychology report.
On the other hand, secondary research is carried out using previously published research.
For example, a meta-analysis uses statistical means to combine and analyse data from similar studies.
Or, a systematic review uses a systematic approach (clearly defining variables and creating extensive inclusion and exclusion criteria to find research in databases) to gather empirical data to answer a research question.
Scientific Report: Importance
The reason why research should follow the APA recommendations for writing up psychological scientific research is that:
- It ensures the researcher adds enough information to replicate and peer-review the study.
- It makes it easier to read and find relevant information.
- It ensures the report is written to a good standard.
- It ensures any secondary research used acknowledges and credits the original author.
Scientfic Report: Writing
When conducting scientific report writing, several things must be kept in mind. A scientific report aims to help readers understand the study's procedure, findings and what this means for psychology. A scientific report should be clear and logical to make it easier to understand the research.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has created guidelines on how a scientific report should be written, including the scientific report structure and format.
APA suggests several headings for use in psychology reports. The scientific report structure and details included in the report will vary based on the researcher's experiment. However, a general framework is used as a template for research.
Scientific Report Structure
Psychology research should always start with an abstract. This section briefly summarises the whole study, typically 150-200 words. The crucial details the abstract should give include an overview of the hypothesis, sample, procedure, results, details regarding data analysis, and the conclusions drawn.
This section allows readers to read the summary and decide if the research is relevant to them.
The purpose of the introduction is to justify why the research is carried out. This is usually done by writing a literature review of relevant information to the phenomena and showing that your study will fill a gap in research.
The information described in the literature review must show how the researcher it was used to formulate and derived the hypothesis investigated.
The literature review will reflect research supporting and negating the hypothesis.
In this section, the investigated hypotheses should be reported.
The introduction should consist of a third of the psychology research report.
Scientific Report Structure: Method
The method consists of multiple subsections to ensure the report covers enough details to replicate the research. It is important to replicate investigations to identify if it is reliable. The details included in the methodology are important for peer-reviewing the quality of the study.
It allows the person peer-reviewing it to determine if the research is scientific, reliable, and valid and if it should be published in a psychological journal.
The subsections written in the methods section of a scientific report are:
State the experimental design.
State all of the (operationalised) variables investigated.
If multiple conditions are investigated, e.g., people treated for one, two, and four weeks, researchers should report it.
It is also important to note how researchers allocated participants into groups and whether they used counterbalancing methods.
The research design used, e.g., correlational research.
Counterbalancing is used to combat order effects. In some designs, participants repeat the same experiment counterbalancing techniques deal with these.
The sampling method should be noted, e.g., opportunity.
Researchers should state the number of participants and the number of males and females participating in the study.
They should state the demographics of the participants used in the research, e.g., age (including the mean and standard deviation), ethnicity, nationality, and any other details relevant to the investigation.
This section should state all the relevant equipment used in the study, i.e., equipment/materials used to measure the variables , e.g., questionnaires (researchers should include a copy of this in the appendix).
Some research does not use this subsection if it does not use any specialised materials, e.g., researchers do not need to state if participants used pens or a stopwatch.
- This section should describe what researchers did in the research in the order they conducted it.
They should include details about standardised instruction, informed consent, and debriefing.
This section should be concise but provide enough details so it is replicable.
This section states which ethical committee reviewed and granted the research.
It should state any ethical issues that could have occurred in the research and how researchers dealt with them.
Scientific Report Conclusion and Results
The results section is where you state your findings. This section only states what you have found and does not discuss or explain it. You can present the data found through numerical values, tables, and figures. However, there are specific guidelines on reporting data per APA guidelines when reporting or adding these.
Researchers should not use the raw data collected. Instead, it should be analysed first. The results should start with descriptive data followed by inferential statistics (the type of statistical test used to identify whether a hypothesis should be accepted or rejected).
These statistics should include effect size and significance level (p).
Researchers should report data regardless of whether it is significant or not. They should report the p-value to three decimal places but everything else to two.
After the results, the scientific report conclusion should be reported; this summarises what was found in the study.
- The scientific report conclusion provides a less detailed summary of the study's results which is built on in the discussion section.
Scientific Report: Discussion
This section should discuss and conclude with the research results. The first thing researchers should write about in the discussion is whether the findings support the proposed hypothesis.
If the results support the hypothesis, researchers should compare the findings to previously published findings in the introduction that also found the same results.
You should add very little new research to the discussion section. If the hypothesis is not supported, the discussion should explain from research why this may be. Here, adding new research to present the findings is acceptable (perhaps another theory better explains it).
Critiquing this research, such as its strengths and weaknesses, how it contributed to the psychology field, and its next direction is essential. In the discussion, researchers should not add statistical values.
Scientific Report Example
An example of a scientific report includes any of those seen in studies, such as when a laboratory produces a primary scientific psychology report, or a meta-analysis which uses statistical means to combine and analyse data from similar studies.
The purpose of the reference section is to give credit to all the research used in writing the report. Researchers list this section in alphabetical order based on the author's last name – t he references listed need to be reported per the APA format.
Researchers use background information, e.g. data or theories from previous publications, to form hypotheses, support, criticise findings and learn how research should progress.
The two most common secondary sources used in scientific reports are findings from published journals or books.
Let's look at some scientific report examples of how books and journals should be referenced following APA guidelines.
Book : Author, initial (year of publication). Book title in italics. Publisher. DOI if available (digital object identifier).
Example: Comer, R. J. (2007). Abnormal psychology . New York: Worth Publishers.
Journal: Author, initial (year). Article title. Journal title in italics, volume number in italics , issue number, page range. DOI if available.
Example: Fjell, A. M., Walhovd, K. B., Fischl, B., & Reinvang, I. (2007). Cognitive function, P3a/P3b brain potentials, and cortical thickness in ageing. Human Brain Mapping, 28 (11), 1098-1116. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.20335
Scientific Report - Key takeaways
A scientific report consists of details regarding scientists reporting what their research entailed and reporting the results and conclusions drawn from the study.
- Researchers should write scientific psychology reports per the APA format to ensure the scientists report enough information. It makes the report easier to read and find relevant information and ensures that the original authors of the research are acknowledged and credited.
- The scientific report structure should use the following subheadings: abstract, introduction, method (design, participants, materials, procedure and ethics), results, discussion, references and occasionally appendix, in this order.
Frequently Asked Questions about Scientific Report
--> how do you write a scientific report in psychology.
When psychologists carry out research, an essential part of the process involves reporting what the research entails and the results and conclusions drawn from the study. The American Psychological Association (APA) provides guidelines for the correct format researchers should use when writing psychology research reports.
--> How do you write a scientific introduction to a report?
It is usually done by writing a literature review of relevant information to the phenomena and showing that your study will fill a gap in research.
--> How do you structure a scientific report?
The structure of a scientific report should use the following subheadings: abstract, introduction, method (design, participants, materials, procedure and ethics), results, discussion, references and occasionally appendix, in this order.
--> What is a scientific report?
A scientific report consists of details regarding scientists reporting what their research entailed and reporting the results and conclusions drawn from the study.
--> What are the types of a scientific report?
Scientific reports can be primary or secondary. A primary scientific report is produced when the researchers conduct the research themselves. However, secondary scientific reports such as peer reviews, meta-analyses and systematic reviews are a type of scientific report that scientists produce when the researcher answers their proposed research question using previously published findings.
Final Scientific Report Quiz
Scientific report quiz - teste dein wissen.
What is a scientific report?
Why is scientific research reported per APA in psychology?
- It ensures the scientists report enough information.
- It makes the report easier to read and find relevant information.
- It ensures the original research authors are acknowledged and credited.
How should the following book be reported per APA guidelines? The book is called Abnormal psychology, Worth Publishers published it in New York in 2007. Ronald J Comer wrote the book.
Comer, R. J. (2007). Abnormal psychology . New York: Worth Publishers.
What structure should a scientific report follow?
The structure of a scientific report should use the following subheadings:
- Occasionally appendix.
What are potential subheadings we can find in the methods section of a scientific report?
Where can readers find the hypothesis of research?
In the abstract and introduction.
What is the purpose of the abstract?
The purpose of the abstract is to provide an overview of the research so that the reader can quickly identify if the research is relevant or of interest to them.
How long should an abstract be?
Is the following reference reported in accordance with APA guidelines ‘Fjell, A. M., Walhovd, K. B., Fischl, B., & Reinvang, I. Cognitive function, P3a/P3b brain potentials, and cortical thickness in ageing. Human Brain Mapping, 28 (11), 1098-1116. doi:10.1002/hbm.20335’?
No, the publication year is missing.
Do researchers have to report insignificant data?
Yes, they need to report all data, whether significant or not.
What is the difference between the information that should be put in the results and discussion section?
In the results section, the researcher should insert the inferential data analysed, which could take the form of numerical numbers, graphs and figures. In this section, they should not discuss or explain the results. Instead, they should write it under the discussion heading. However, the data reported in the results section should not be repeated here.
What is a primary scientific report?
A primary scientific report is produced when the researchers conduct the research themselves.
What is a secondary scientific report?
Secondary scientific reports such as peer-reviews, meta-analysis and systematic reviews are a type of scientific report that scientists produce when the researcher answers their proposed research question using previously published findings.
What kind of details should be added in the discussion section?
- The first thing that researchers should write about in the discussion is whether the findings support the hypothesis proposed or not.
- They should then discuss and explain the results the research found.
- They should then compare the findings to previously published findings that investigated the phenomena.
- It is essential to critique this research, such as the strengths and weaknesses, how it contributed to the psychology field and its next direction.
What information should be provided in the procedure section of a scientific report?
- They should include the details about standardised instruction, informed consent, and debriefing.
Researchers need to add enough details of their study so that it can be .....
When referring to another study the researcher should always the original .
Meta-analyses and systematic reports are both examples of research.
According to APA, six main headings should be included in a report, true or false?
According to APA, the way to reference a book and journal is the same, true or false?
After a paper is written, what is done?
The paper is peer-reviewed.
What does peer-reviewing ensure?
Identify if the research is scientific, reliable, and valid and if it should be published in a psychological journal.
Can researchers refer to raw data in their scientific report?
Should researchers refer to their statistical findings to back what they are saying?
No, data should not be referred to in the discussion. Instead, the researcher can describe what was found and the inferences that can be made from observed trends.
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Learn how to prepare, write and structure a science report.
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The purpose of a scientific report is to talk the reader through an experiment or piece of research you’ve done where you’ve generated some data, the decisions you made, what you found and what it means.
Lab or experimental reports in the Sciences have a very specific structure, which is often known as IMRAD :
- I ntroduction
- R esults and
- D iscussion.
Whether it’s a shorter lab report or a longer research project or dissertation, science writing of this kind tends to be structured into those sections (or chapters, if it’s a long project or thesis). Empirical research in the Social Sciences which is based on data collection might also use this structure. You’ll probably recognise it too in many of the journal articles you’re reading. There are sometimes variations from this pattern – sometimes results and discussion are combined into one section, sometimes in a longer research project there is a separate literature review in addition to the introduction, or there might be a conclusion as well as the discussion. Social sciences reports might have a theory section too. Always look at the brief for the assignment you have been set, or ask your lecturer or supervisor if you aren’t sure.
As there is a conventional set structure to follow for scientific reports, the main issue tends to be not how to structure it, but knowing what to write in each section, and making sure the right things are in the right places. Each section is clearly marked out with subheadings with a distinct purpose and role in the report, and the reader will expect to find particular things in each part. To help you follow this structure and know which of your points goes where, it might be useful to think about what question each section answers for your reader, and also what type of writing is characteristic of that section – more descriptive (factual), or more analytical (interpretation).
The introduction answers two questions, and is mostly descriptive, with more analysis if you’re writing up a research project rather than a lab report:
“What’s the issue here? What do we know about it?” DESCRIPTIVE
The introduction is usually around 15-20% of the report. It offers the reader some context and background information about the issue you’re exploring or the principle you’re verifying, to establish what we’re talking about and to outline what is known about the topic. In a shorter lab report, this is where you might use references to scientific literature, to show you have read about the subject and what you’re basing your understanding on. Keep this part as tightly focussed as you can and don’t be tempted to include lots of detail or go too broad. Think about what the reader needs to know to follow your report, rather than showing everything you’ve learned about the topic. The kind of writing you’re doing here is descriptive – mostly factual statements, backed up with references, to demonstrate your understanding of the background of your experiment or research.
“What are you trying to do and why?” ANALYTICAL
The introduction quickly moves on to the nature of the problem you’re trying to solve, hypothesis you are testing or research question you’re trying to answer. Again, you might want to make reference to other people’s research to demonstrate why this is a problem, what the debate might be or what exactly we don’t know. This kind of writing is higher level, as you’re analysing a problem and evaluating why this research needs to be done. In a research project, this is a very important section, as it’s the justification for your research, but in a lab experiment, you are demonstrating that you understand why this activity has been set rather than just following instructions. You would also state briefly what model, theory, approach or method you have chosen to take and why, what kind of research this is, but not in any detail yet.
“What is the current state of knowledge and what don’t we know?” ANALYTICAL
If you are writing up a longer research project or dissertation, you will be doing far more reading with much more critical analysis of existing research and discussion of why yours needs to be undertaken. The introduction might therefore contain so much reference to the literature and so much more analysis that it’s better to add it as a separate section in its own right – the literature review. In a shorter lab report, the references to the literature are integrated within the introduction and tend to be more descriptive -what the literature says rather than what you think about it. In a social sciences report, the literature review might also contain a discussion of the theory you’re using.
“How did you do the research?” DESCRIPTIVE
The methods section really is a pretty straightforward description of what you did to perform the experiment, or collect and process the data. It is often relatively short, about 15-20% of the report, and because it describes what you did, it is written in the past tense, whereas the rest of the report is in the present tense. In a lab resport, it might even be largely based on the experiment brief you were given. Its purpose is to allow your research to be replicated, so it needs to be clear and detailed enough to let another researcher follow it and reproduce what you did, like a recipe. This allows the reader to know exactly how you gathered and processed your data and judge whether your method was appropriate, or if it has any limitations or flaws. The methods section describes what you actually did rather than what you ideally intended to do, so it also includes any places where you departed from your planned approach and things might have gone a bit wrong or unexpectedly. This will help you explain any unusual elements in your results. Depending on the kind of research you are doing, a methods section might list equipment or software used, describe a set up or process, list steps you took, detail models, theories or parameters you employed, describe experiment design, outline survey questions or explain how you chose the sample you studied.
In a longer research project, you might include some more analytical discussion of why you chose those methods over alternative options, perhaps with some references to other studies which have used those approaches, but this would be part of your introduction or literature review.
“What did you find? What do the findings say?” DESCRIPTIVE
This section is where you present your findings, or data. This could take a number of forms, depending on the kind of research you’re doing -it could be text, but very often the data is presented as graphs, tables, images, or other kinds of figure. You might choose to include representative data, rather than all of the results. The results section is a meaty one, perhaps 30-40% of the report in terms of space and importance, but it is dense rather than long and wordy, as figures are often richer and more concise than words. How you represent your data is up to you, and depends on the observations you want to draw out of it.
The results section is one which many people find confusing to write. Its purpose is to present the data, but in a form which is easy for the reader to digest. The results section therefore has some explanation, so the reader knows what they are looking at. For example, it isn’t enough simply to give them a graph or table; there needs to be an explanation of what the figure is, what it contains and how to read it (for example, what the image is of and its scale, what the graph axes are or what the columns and rows in the table represent). You might also draw the reader’s attention to the main features of the data that you want them to notice, such as trends, patterns, correlations, noteworthy aspects or significant areas. However, the results section is mostly descriptive – it’s a slightly digested form of your raw data. It says what the findings are, what the data says, but it doesn’t tell the reader what the results mean – that’s the job of the discussion.
“What do the findings mean?” ANALYSIS
Results in themselves aren’t the full story. Two people can look at the same data, see two different things and interpret it in two different ways. The discussion is where you explain what you think the data means and what it proves. In doing so, you are making an argument, explaining the reasons why you think your interpretation of the data is correct, so this section is very analytical and therefore substantial, about 15-20%. In a discussion, you might be arguing that something is significant, or that it shows a connection, or is due to particular causes. You could comment on the impact of any limitations, how far the findings support your hypothesis, or what further work needs to be done and speculate on what it might find. You might also bring some references to the literature in here, to help support your arguments, explain your findings or show how they are consistent with other studies. The discussion section is likely to be one of the longer ones, as this is where your main argument is.
In some reports, the results and discussion sections are combined, but in general, resist the temptation to comment on your results as you present them, and save this for the later discussion section. Keep the factual results and the more subjective interpretation separate. If you are writing up a longer project, dissertation or thesis, you might have more than one results or discussion chapter to cover different aspects of your research.
“What’s the overall point you’re making? So what?” ANALYTICAL
If you have been asked to write a conclusion separately to the discussion, this is where you take a big step back from the detailed analysis of the data in your discussion, and summarise overall what you think your research has shown. You might comment on its significance or implications for our understanding of the topic you outlined in the introduction, or where it agrees or disagrees with other literature. You are making a judgement statement about the validity, quality and significance of your study and how it fits with existing knowledge. Some reports combine this with the discussion though. The conclusion is fairly short, about 5%, as you’re not adding new information, just summing it all up into your main overall message. It is analytical though, so although you are restating the points you’ve already made, you are synthesising it in a new way so your reader understands what the research has demonstrated and what has been learned from it.
If you are writing a longer research project, dissertation or thesis, you would include an abstract at the beginning, summarising the whole report for the reader. The abstract is read separately from the report itself, as it helps the reader get a sense of what it contains and whether they want to read the whole thing.
At the end of the main report, you would include elements such as your reference list, and any appendices if you are using them. An appendix is generally used for elements which are long and detailed information, but which are not central to your points and which would disrupt the flow of the report if you included them in the main body.
Writing an IMRAD report
Although this order is the way a science report is structured, you don’t have to write it in this order. Many people begin with the more descriptive elements, the methods and results, and then write the more analytical sections around them. The method and results can be written up at an earlier stage of the research too, as you go, whereas the discussion can only be written once you’ve done the research and collected and analysed the data.
Checking your structure
When planning your writing or editing a draft, you could use this approach to help you check that you are following this structure.
- Take the question that each section poses. Is there anything in the section which does not directly answer this question? This will help you decide if there’s anything irrelevant you need to delete. Is there anything which answers the question raised by a different section? In this case, it’s in the wrong place and needs moving.
- Highlight which parts of your writing are more descriptive and factual, and which are more analytical, justifying or interpreting. Does that fit with the kind of writing expected in each section? If not, you may need to move some of your points around or change the balance of the kinds of points you’re making.
Download this guide as a PDF
Structuring a science report.
Learn how to prepare, write and structure a science report. **PDF Download**
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Science: Lab report
What is a science lab report.
A science lab report is a structured way of communicating the outcomes of your practical work.
The structure of a typical lab report includes the following sections:
- Aim and Hypothesis - Why you conducted the practical work.
- Method - How you conducted the practical work and how any data processed.
- Results - What was the data, process or product obtained from the practical work.
- Discussion - How your results addressed your aim and hypothesis.
- Conclusion - What was the overall outcome of your practical work and how do your finding relate to the larger body of scientific knowledge.
You can apply the common report writing techniques outlined below, after always checking the specific details of your assignment.
Top tips for science lab reports View
Lab report structure.
The title describes the purpose of the practical work in precise terms.
The majority of your practical work will involve measurements, observations or the creation of some object of interest. For example: The Period of a Simple Pendulum
It is clear from the above lab report title that it describes the measurement of a property called a ‘period’, and the object of interest is a ‘simple pendulum’.
Check your understanding View
The abstract provides a brief overview of the practical work, including key results and conclusions.
Keep your abstract short, i.e. about one paragraph or 250 to 500 words. It must be clear enough that the reader can understand a summary of the report without needing to read the rest of it.
In general, the abstract should answer six questions. Addressing each question only requires one to two sentences:
- Why was the experiment conducted? (big-picture/real-world view).
- What specific problem/research question was being addressed?
- What methods were used to solve the problem/answer the question?
- What results were obtained?
- What do these results mean?
- How do the results answer the overall question or improve our understanding of the problem?
Shorter lab reports may not require an abstract, so check your guidelines first.
The introduction is where you introduce the reader to the broader context of your practical work and then narrow down to the hypothesis, aims or research question you intend to address.
You should also succinctly explain relevant theory and discuss any relevant laws, equations or theorems.
The method section is where you describe what you actually did during the practical work. You need to describe the actions you took in a way that someone from your field has enough information to replicate the process and achieve a similar result.
You must also include any unplanned changes to the original process which occurred during the execution of the experiment. A great way to keep track of this is to use a lab notebook during the practical work to note any change you make.
Turn lab instructions into a lab report method
A common mistake students make is copying the instructions their teachers provide directly into their method section. You will generally be provided with a set of instructions to complete your practical work. These instructions are NOT written in the style of a laboratory report. A typical set of instructions usually includes:
- How the apparatus and equipment were set up (e.g. experimental set-up), usually including a diagram.
- A list of materials used.
- Steps used to collect the data.
- Any experimental difficulties encountered and how they were resolved or worked around.
Below is an example of the instructions provided to a student to carry out a first year chemistry experiment.
Phrases are used here to specifically instruct the student who may be performing the technique for the first time. This is different from a lab report where you are reporting on what you did. For example, the instructions say:
- 'use a clear pipette…'
- 'rinse the burette…'
- 'remember to take the reading from the centre of the meniscus…'
These are not appropriate phrases to include in the lab report.
Also note that the language of the instructions is in the present tense in bullet points. The method section of your report should instead be written in the past tense as a cohesive paragraph.
However, there are ways you can change the language of the instructions to write your method section.
Below is an example of how these lab instructions were summarised into a method in a laboratory report:
Lab report: method
25ml of HCl(aq) was pipetted into a 100ml conical flask. A burette was then filled with standardised NaOH(aq). A sheet of white paper was placed under the burette. The conical flask was placed onto the white paper and five drops of universal indicator was added to the flask. The standardised NaOH(aq) was titrated into the flask with constant swirling until there was an observable colour change.
How to change lab instructions into a lab method
How to use a passive voice in lab reports.
While most science units require that you report in the passive voice , some require the active voice . In the example below, the first person plural is used in the active voice, i.e. "we initiated". Usage of the active voice is accepted in some disciplines, but not others. Check your unit information or talk to your teacher.
While in science the passive voice is generally preferred, some disciplines may allow or prefer the active voice. Read samples of student reports below and identify which examples are written in passive voice, and which use active voice.
The results section is where you present a summary of the data collected during your experiments. This section is not just a copy of the raw data from your lab notebook. Rather, it may involve calculation, analysis and the drawing up of tables and figures to present your data.
When you take your raw data and perform some sort of mathematical operation to change it, it is good practice to show the equations you used in your analysis, as well as one worked example using each equation. Calculations that are very long or repeated multiple times are usually included in an appendix (see below).
In some disciplines, if formulae are used, it is common to number them as equations:
Error analysis is a type of calculation that indicates the accuracy of your results, usually done by determining the level of uncertainty. The sources of error that you need to consider will vary between experiments and disciplines, but you will usually need to factor in both random and systematic errors.
Any analysis and calculations of the errors or uncertainties in the experiment are included in the results section unless otherwise specified. In some disciplines the analysis and uncertainty calculations are presented under their own heading. Check the requirements given in your unit information or lab manual, or ask your tutor if you are unsure where to place calculations
Tables and figures
Most numerical data are presented using tables or figures. These need to be clearly labelled following the standard conventions for captions, and titles must tell the reader precisely what data is being presented.
If a measurement is stated in the title, in a column of a table or on the axis of a graph and it has units associated with it, these must be included (usually in brackets).
The table below presents a series of measurements collected during an experiment. Notice the units in every column with the brackets. Some measurements such as pH or C p do not have units.
The figure below is a graphical representation of aerodynamic measurements. Notice the axes are labelled with appropriate units and the caption at the bottom of the figure clearly describes what the figure is about.
Figures can also be a wide variety of images. The figure below is an image taken from a type of molecular microscope. Notice the caption at the bottom of the figure clearly describing the figure and the specification of the magnification of the microscope.
If you must use figures from another source, indicate in the citation whether you have modified it in any way to avoid collusion or plagiarism .
The discussion section is where you interpret and evaluate your results. To do this you need to summarise your key results, summarise unexpected results, and explain how your results relate to your aims, hypotheses or literature as stated at the start of the report. Here are some tips on writing discussion sections:
Identify and describe any trends or patterns you have observed. If these are numerical trends, state the values. Avoid using unspecific words such as ‘higher, lower, increased, decreased’, which can make the information vague.
Compare the experimental results with any predictions you made.
Interpret what the results mean in relation to the aims, research question(s) or hypothesis.
Describe any results which were unexpected or didn’t match your predictions.
Suggest explanations for unexpected results based on the theory and procedures of the experiment.
Evaluate how any sources of error might impact on the interpretation of your results in relation to the aims, research question(s) or hypothesis.
- State the limitations of the study and link to literature
Clarify how the limitations of the study might affect the accuracy and precision of the answers to your aim, research question or hypothesis.
Suggest how the experiment or analysis could have been improved. A longer report may require support from the academic literature.
Explain how your results do or do not address your aim, research question or hypothesis, and indicate future directions for the research.
The discussion example below is from a first-year Biology unit. The aim of this experiment was to identify decomposition rates of leaf breakdown to establish rates of energy transfer.
Drag each description of each component of the Discussion section to its example. Notice the order in which the components make up a coherent Discussion section.
Students often make the mistake of thinking a conclusion section is identical to a discussion section.
The conclusion section is where you summarise your report. A conclusion is usually one paragraph or 200 to 300 words. In this way a conclusion is very similar to an abstract, but with more emphasis on the results and discussion.
A conclusion never introduces any new ideas or results. Rather, it provides a concise summary of those which have already been presented in the report. When writing a conclusion you should:
- briefly restate the purpose of the experiment (i.e. the question it was seeking to answer)
- identify the main findings (i.e. the answer to the research question)
- note the main limitations that are relevant to the interpretation of the results
- summarise what the experiment has contributed to the broader understanding of the problem.
Conclusion example with feedback
When in-text citations are incorporated into your lab report (typically in the introduction or discussion) you must always have the full references included in a separate reference list. The reference list is a separate section that comes after your conclusion (and before any appendices). Check your lab manual or unit information to determine which referencing style is preferred. Carefully follow that referencing style for your in-text references and reference list. You can find examples and information about common referencing styles in the Citing and referencing Library guide . The following is an example of a reference list based on the in-text citations used in the Introduction and Conclusion sections in this tutorial. This example has been formatted in accordance with the CSIRO referencing style .
Jones T, Smith K, Nguyen P, di Alberto P (2017) Effects of habitat overlap on population sampling. Environmental Ecology Journal 75 , 23-29. doi: 10.5432/1111.23
Tian M, Castillo TL (2016) Solar heating uptake in Australia: rates, causes and effects. Energy Efficiency Reports. Report no. 10, The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Canberra.
An appendix (plural = appendices) contains material that is too detailed to include in the main report, such as tables of raw data or detailed calculations.
Each appendix must be:
- given a number (or letter) and title
- referred to by number (or letter) at the relevant point in the text.
The calculated values are shown in Table 3 below. For detailed calculations, see Appendix 1.
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Writing a lab report: introduction and discussion section guide.
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Part 1 (of 2): Introducing a Lab Report
The introduction of a lab report states the objective of the experiment and provides the reader with background information. State the topic of your report clearly and concisely (in one or two sentences). Provide background theory, previous research, or formulas the reader should know. Usually, an instructor does not want you to repeat whatever the lab manual says, but to show your understanding of the problem.
Questions an Effective Lab Report Introduction Should Answer
What is the problem.
Describe the problem investigated. Summarize relevant research to provide context, key terms, and concepts so that your reader can understand the experiment.
Why is it important?
Review relevant research to provide a rationale for the investigation. What conflict, unanswered question, untested population, or untried method in existing research does your experiment address? How will you challenge or extend the findings of other researchers?
What solution (or step toward a solution) do you propose?
Briefly describe your experiment : hypothesis , research question , general experimental design or method , and a justification of your method (if alternatives exist).
Tips on Composing Your Lab Report’s Introduction
- Move from the general to the specific – from a problem in research literature to the specifics of your experiment.
- Engage your reader – answer the questions: “What did I do?” “Why should my reader care?”
- Clarify the links between problem and solution, between question asked and research design, and between prior research and the specifics of your experiment.
- Be selective, not exhaustive, in choosing studies to cite and the amount of detail to include. In general, the more relevant an article is to your study, the more space it deserves and the later in the introduction it appears.
- Ask your instructor whether or not you should summarize results and/or conclusions in the Introduction.
- “The objective of the experiment was …”
- “The purpose of this report is …”
- “Bragg’s Law for diffraction is …”
- “The scanning electron microscope produces micrographs …”
Part 2 (of 2): Writing the “Discussion” Section of a Lab Report
The discussion is the most important part of your lab report, because here you show that you have not merely completed the experiment, but that you also understand its wider implications. The discussion section is reserved for putting experimental results in the context of the larger theory. Ask yourself: “What is the significance or meaning of the results?”
Elements of an Effective Discussion Section
What do the results indicate clearly? Based on your results, explain what you know with certainty and draw conclusions.
What is the significance of your results? What ambiguities exist? What are logical explanations for problems in the data? What questions might you raise about the methods used or the validity of the experiment? What can be logically deduced from your analysis?
Tips on the Discussion Section
1. explain your results in terms of theoretical issues..
How well has the theory been illustrated? What are the theoretical implications and practical applications of your results?
For each major result:
- Describe the patterns, principles, and relationships that your results show.
- Explain how your results relate to expectations and to literature cited in your Introduction. Explain any agreements, contradictions, or exceptions.
- Describe what additional research might resolve contradictions or explain exceptions.
2. Relate results to your experimental objective(s).
If you set out to identify an unknown metal by finding its lattice parameter and its atomic structure, be sure that you have identified the metal and its attributes.
3. Compare expected results with those obtained.
If there were differences, how can you account for them? Were the instruments able to measure precisely? Was the sample contaminated? Did calculated values take account of friction?
4. Analyze experimental error along with the strengths and limitations of the experiment’s design.
Were any errors avoidable? Were they the result of equipment? If the flaws resulted from the experiment design, explain how the design might be improved. Consider, as well, the precision of the instruments that were used.
5. Compare your results to similar investigations.
In some cases, it is legitimate to compare outcomes with classmates, not in order to change your answer, but in order to look for and to account for or analyze any anomalies between the groups. Also, consider comparing your results to published scientific literature on the topic.
The “Introducing a Lab Report” guide was adapted from the University of Toronto Engineering Communications Centre and University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center.
The “Writing the Discussion Section of a Lab Report” resource was adapted from the University of Toronto Engineering Communications Centre and University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center.
Last revised: 07/2008 | Adapted for web delivery: 02/2021
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- Scientific Lab Reports
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Writing a Lab Report
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Writing a scientific lab report is significantly different from writing for other classes like philosophy, English, and history. The most prominent form of writing in biology, chemistry, and environmental science is the lab report, which is a formally written description of results and discoveries found in an experiment. College lab reports should emulate and follow the same formats as reports found in scholarly journals, such as Nature , Cell , and The American Journal of Biochemistry .
Title: The title says what you did. It should be brief (aim for ten words or less) and describe the main point of the experiment or investigation.
- Example: Caffeine Increases Amylase Activity in the Mealworm ( Tenebrio molitar).
- If you can, begin your title using a keyword rather than an article like “The” or “A.”
Abstract: An abstract is a very concise summary of the purpose of the report, data presented, and major conclusions in about 100 - 200 words. Abstracts are also commonly required for conference/presentation submissions because they summarize all of the essential materials necessary to understand the purpose of the experiment. They should consist of a background sentence , an introduction sentence , your hypothesis/purpose of the experiment, and a sentence about the results and what this means.
Introduction: The introduction of a lab report defines the subject of the report, provides background information and relevant studies, and outlines scientific purpose(s) and/or objective(s).
- The introduction is a place to provide the reader with necessary research on the topic and properly cite sources used.
- Summarizes the current literature on the topic including primary and secondary sources.
- Introduces the paper’s aims and scope.
- States the purpose of the experiment and the hypothesis.
Materials and Methods: The materials and methods section is a vital component of any formal lab report. This section of the report gives a detailed account of the procedure that was followed in completing the experiment as well as all important materials used. (This includes bacterial strains and species names in tests using living subjects.)
- Discusses the procedure of the experiment in as much detail as possible.
- Provides information about participants, apparatus, tools, substances, location of experiment, etc.
- For field studies, be sure to clearly explain where and when the work was done.
- It must be written so that anyone can use the methods section as instructions for exact replications.
- Don’t hesitate to use subheadings to organize these categories.
- Practice proper scientific writing forms. Be sure to use the proper abbreviations for units. Example: The 50mL sample was placed in a 5ºC room for 48hrs.
Results: The results section focuses on the findings, or data, in the experiment, as well as any statistical tests used to determine their significance.
- Concentrate on general trends and differences and not on trivial details.
- Summarize the data from the experiments without discussing their implications (This is where all the statistical analyses goes.)
- Organize data into tables, figures, graphs, photographs, etc. Data in a table should not be duplicated in a graph or figure. Be sure to refer to tables and graphs in the written portion, for example, “Figure 1 shows that the activity....”
- Number and title all figures and tables separately, for example, Figure 1 and Table 1 and include a legend explaining symbols and abbreviations. Figures and graphs are labeled below the image while tables are labeled above.
Discussion: The discussion section interprets the results, tying them back to background information and experiments performed by others in the past.This is also the area where further research opportunities shold be explored.
- Interpret the data; do not restate the results.
- Observations should also be noted in this section, especially anything unusual which may affect your results.
For example, if your bacteria was incubated at the wrong temperature or a piece of equipment failed mid-experiment, these should be noted in the results section.
- Relate results to existing theories and knowledge.This can tie back to your introduction section because of the background you provided.
- Explain the logic that allows you to accept or reject your original hypotheses.
- Include suggestions for improving your techniques or design, or clarify areas of doubt for further research.
Acknowledgements and References: A references list should be compiled at the end of the report citing any works that were used to support the paper. Additionally, an acknowledgements section should be included to acknowledge research advisors/ partners, any group or person providing funding for the research and anyone outside the authors who contributed to the paper or research.
- In scientific papers, passive voice is perfectly acceptable. On the other hand, using “I” or “we” is not.
Incorrect: We found that caffeine increased amylase levels in Tenebrio molitar. Correct: It was discovered that caffeine increased amylase levels in Tenebrio molitar.
- It is expected that you use as much formal (bland) language and scientific terminology as you can. There should be no emphasis placed on “expressing yourself” or “keeping it interesting”; a lab report is not a narrative.
- In a lab report, it is important to get to the point. Be descriptive enough that your audience can understand the experiment, but strive to be concise.
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How to Write a Lab Report
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Lab reports are an essential part of all laboratory courses and usually a significant part of your grade. If your instructor gives you an outline for how to write a lab report, use that. Some instructors require a lab report to be included in a lab notebook , while others will request a separate report. Here's a format for a lab report you can use if you aren't sure what to write or need an explanation of what to include in the different parts of the report.
A lab report is how you explain what you did in your experiment, what you learned, and what the results meant.
Lab Report Essentials
Not all lab reports have title pages, but if your instructor wants one, it would be a single page that states:
- The title of the experiment.
- Your name and the names of any lab partners.
- Your instructor's name.
- The date the lab was performed or the date the report was submitted.
The title says what you did. It should be brief (aim for ten words or less) and describe the main point of the experiment or investigation. An example of a title would be: "Effects of Ultraviolet Light on Borax Crystal Growth Rate". If you can, begin your title using a keyword rather than an article like "The" or "A".
Introduction or Purpose
Usually, the introduction is one paragraph that explains the objectives or purpose of the lab. In one sentence, state the hypothesis. Sometimes an introduction may contain background information, briefly summarize how the experiment was performed, state the findings of the experiment, and list the conclusions of the investigation. Even if you don't write a whole introduction, you need to state the purpose of the experiment, or why you did it. This would be where you state your hypothesis .
List everything needed to complete your experiment.
Describe the steps you completed during your investigation. This is your procedure. Be sufficiently detailed that anyone could read this section and duplicate your experiment. Write it as if you were giving direction for someone else to do the lab. It may be helpful to provide a figure to diagram your experimental setup.
Numerical data obtained from your procedure usually presented as a table. Data encompasses what you recorded when you conducted the experiment. It's just the facts, not any interpretation of what they mean.
Describe in words what the data means. Sometimes the Results section is combined with the Discussion.
Discussion or Analysis
The Data section contains numbers; the Analysis section contains any calculations you made based on those numbers. This is where you interpret the data and determine whether or not a hypothesis was accepted. This is also where you would discuss any mistakes you might have made while conducting the investigation. You may wish to describe ways the study might have been improved.
Most of the time the conclusion is a single paragraph that sums up what happened in the experiment, whether your hypothesis was accepted or rejected, and what this means.
Figures and Graphs
Graphs and figures must both be labeled with a descriptive title. Label the axes on a graph, being sure to include units of measurement. The independent variable is on the X-axis, the dependent variable (the one you are measuring) is on the Y-axis. Be sure to refer to figures and graphs in the text of your report: the first figure is Figure 1, the second figure is Figure 2, etc.
If your research was based on someone else's work or if you cited facts that require documentation, then you should list these references.
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Writing a scientific paper.
- Writing a lab report
Writing a "good" results section
Figures and Captions in Lab Reports
"Results Checklist" from: How to Write a Good Scientific Paper. Chris A. Mack. SPIE. 2018.
Additional tips for results sections.
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This is the core of the paper. Don't start the results sections with methods you left out of the Materials and Methods section. You need to give an overall description of the experiments and present the data you found.
- Factual statements supported by evidence. Short and sweet without excess words
- Present representative data rather than endlessly repetitive data
- Discuss variables only if they had an effect (positive or negative)
- Use meaningful statistics
- Avoid redundancy. If it is in the tables or captions you may not need to repeat it
A short article by Dr. Brett Couch and Dr. Deena Wassenberg, Biology Program, University of Minnesota
- Present the results of the paper, in logical order, using tables and graphs as necessary.
- Explain the results and show how they help to answer the research questions posed in the Introduction. Evidence does not explain itself; the results must be presented and then explained.
- Avoid: presenting results that are never discussed; presenting results in chronological order rather than logical order; ignoring results that do not support the conclusions;
- Number tables and figures separately beginning with 1 (i.e. Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, etc.).
- Do not attempt to evaluate the results in this section. Report only what you found; hold all discussion of the significance of the results for the Discussion section.
- It is not necessary to describe every step of your statistical analyses. Scientists understand all about null hypotheses, rejection rules, and so forth and do not need to be reminded of them. Just say something like, "Honeybees did not use the flowers in proportion to their availability (X2 = 7.9, p<0.05, d.f.= 4, chi-square test)." Likewise, cite tables and figures without describing in detail how the data were manipulated. Explanations of this sort should appear in a legend or caption written on the same page as the figure or table.
- You must refer in the text to each figure or table you include in your paper.
- Tables generally should report summary-level data, such as means ± standard deviations, rather than all your raw data. A long list of all your individual observations will mean much less than a few concise, easy-to-read tables or figures that bring out the main findings of your study.
- Only use a figure (graph) when the data lend themselves to a good visual representation. Avoid using figures that show too many variables or trends at once, because they can be hard to understand.
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- Sample Research
FREE 10+ Scientific Research Report Samples in MS Word | PDF
To share your personal original research work with your peers, colleagues, or other scientists, preparing a comprehensive scientific research report is crucial, especially in conducting a qualitative review of the research by other experts in your field. As a science student or a person who aspires to be a scientist, one of the things you need to consider is being able to create an effective science research report . In this article, we will discuss beneficial steps in writing your research report, plus several downloadable templates for you to use. Keep on reading!
Scientific Research Report
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A scientific research or scientific lab report is a useful piece of professional document that contains well-detailed descriptions of the process, development, and/or results of a particular scientific research or the condition of a scientific research problem. It comprises several recommendations, analyses, and conclusion of the scientific research project.
Creating a clear and well-detailed science research report is helpful in a wide array of research studies. Also, the book “ Successful Lab Reports: A Manual for Science Students ” stated that good scientific writing is not literary, despite the fact that scientists use literature as a generic term for their writings. So, you need to use direct words and clear sentences while explaining your lab study.
In this matter, we suggest that you follow the steps below while freely using one of our scientific report paper templates in this article:
One of the main aspects that you need to consider in creating a scientific research report is defining a specific research topic based on the scientific study or project you’re working on. An article published by McGill University explained that a good research topic provides focus and allows you to identify certain areas of importance as well as possibilities for the exploration and analysis. So, think deeply regarding an issue or problem that exists around your area or in your society and use it to define a topic for your scientific project .
In order to design an effective plan for your scientific work , know your goals and objectives. Use various research tools and examine what type of data that is really significant for your scientific report . Set up some new effective strategies on how you will look for important data.
The next step you must do to have a successful scientific research report is to consult your science teacher, professor, or an expert in your scientific field like physical science, biological science, chemical science, computer and information sciences, and more.
Take note of these words by John Anderson: “…the science must be sound, it must be agreed and the consultation must be of a high quality or no one will have any confidence in the process.”
Using a structured outline for your scientific project report is important to maintain a formal system of your research framework and assists you in predicting the whole structure and flow of your research report. Thus, your ideas and plan should be written in an outline so that it is easy to comprehend by your readers.
The significance of a science report is to surely demonstrate your key message about why your scientific findings are valuable. Thus, you need to clarify why you are testing a hypothesis, what methodology you used, what you looked for, and why your findings are beneficial.
The main elements that should be included in a scientific report are in the following:
- Title or Cover Page
- Table of Contents
- Materials and Methods
- References & Citations
The types of scientific research reports are case reports, original articles, scientific reviews, technical notes, pictorial essays, commentaries, and editorials.
Write the methods section in a past tense. Avoid making a list of supplies or materials used for the experiment like a recipe. Avoid a narrative style of writing. Include a well-detailed description of the experimental treatments and sample sizes for each trial.
Therefore, you need to have the skills and expertise and presenting and interpreting data for your science lab research project in biology, chemistry , geography, psychology or other subject areas. Despite having some difficulties in conducting your scientific experiments, you can be confident in writing a good scientific report. You just need to follow the aforementioned steps in this article. So, you can select from our diverse selection of templates here and get a scientific research report sample today!
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