A scientiﬁc research report is a primary means of communication among scientists and researchers. It allows an individual researcher or team or researchers with similar interests to share their ﬁndings and ideas with their peers in an organized and official manner. The formal lab reports you will write as an undergraduate student are modelled on the reports written and submitted by scientists, professors, and other researchers to professional and scientiﬁc journals. These reports are peer-reviewed and, if accepted for publication, are published in journals available globally. Scientists and researchers read these journal articles, and use the information to further their own research or to collaborate with others. This is how the body of knowledge in a certain discipline grows. The format of the journal article is structured to allow readers to quickly identify what they are looking for and to follow in a logical manner the work done by the author.
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 below. However, because some courses have special needs, always consult your instructor to ﬁnd out the particular requirements for your assignment. The Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of the Bacterium, Escherichia coli. This title explains the environmental factors manipulated (light and temperature), the parameter measured (growth), and the speciﬁc organism used (E. The abstract is a condensed version of the entire lab report (approximately 250 words). A reader uses the abstract to quickly understand the purpose, methods, results and signiﬁcance of your research without reading the entire paper. Abstracts or papers published in scholarly journals are useful to you when you are conducting library research, because you can quickly determine whether the research report will be relevant to your topic. The material in the abstract is written in the same order as that within the paper, and has the same emphasis.
An effective abstract should include a sentence or two summarizing the highlights from each of the sections: introduction (including purpose), methods, results, and discussion. To reﬂect the content (especially results and conclusions) of the paper accurately, the abstract should be written after the ﬁnal draft of your paper is complete, although it is placed at the beginning of the paper. Summarize the major points from the discussion/conclusion. Why did you study this problem? The introduction should identify the problem or issue and provide the background information (on previous work and/or theories) that the reader needs to understand your experiment. To do this, the introduction contains a brief literature review to describe previous research conducted on the problem, and to explain how the current experiment will help to clarify or expand the knowledge. The introduction should end with a purpose statement (sometimes in the form of a hypothesis or null hypothesis): one sentence which speciﬁcally states the question your experiment was designed to answer.
The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of environmentally realistic exposures of acid precipitation on productivity of ﬁeld-grown and chamber-grown peanuts. The hypothesis was that environmentally realistic exposures of acid precipitation would affect the productivity of both ﬁeld-grown and chamber-grown peanuts. The null hypothesis was that environmentally realistic exposures of acid precipitation would not affect the productivity of either ﬁeld-grown or chamber-grown peanuts. Use resources such as your textbook, course notes, and journal articles to build the foundation, and use examples of similar experiments/results that others have done that support your hypothesis. Don’t forget to document your sources using appropriate referencing style for your discipline (see writing handouts on referencing). What did you do? How did you do it? In this section you will describe how and when you did your work, including experimental design, experimental apparatus, methods of gathering and analyzing data, and types of control. Include complete details and write this section clearly enough to allow readers to duplicate the experiment if they so wish.