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ES 231: Environmental Analysis

The Formal Lab Report

A Lab Report is where you write exactly what occurred in the experiment, under exactly what conditions, and clearly discuss the results and their relation to your hypothesis.

Be clear and specific. You are not only communicating your results to your professor, but you are also sharing your experiment with the scientific community to avoid future repetition and redundancy. To that end, it is important that you provide all of the necessary information in the order and format that is considered standard in the scientific community.

The Anatomy of a Lab Report

  1. Introduction: Introduce your experiment, its relevance, and any background information needed including relevant literature. A well-written introduction helps the reader understand why your experiment is relevant to the field and their own interest.
    • Statement of Purpose: Concisely outline the reason behind the paper in one sentence toward the end of your introduction.
  2. Materials & Methods: How was the experiment carried out and what materials were used. This section needs to be detailed enough to allow other members of the scientific community to re-create your experiment and (hopefully) replicate your results.
  3. Results & Discussion: Summarize your data using tables, graphs, and/or figures and discuss what the data could mean. This is also the place to discuss any concerns you have about or limitations of your results.
  4. Conclusion: Short, concise summary of the experiment and results - what are your results significant, and what next steps need to be taken.
  5. References: Properly-formatted full citations of materials you used for this paper. 
  6. Sample Calculations: Provide one sample calculation for each calculation that you performed. Calculations are difficult to explain verbally, so providing an example clearly demonstrates how you came to the results you provide. 


Assignment Documents

Rubric: This rubric outlines how your lab report will be graded. It is important to review this document frequently as you work to ensure you are on the right track. 

Lab Report Template: You may wish to use this template to help you format your lab report.

Example Lab Reports: Exemplary examples of previous student reports, woven together as a single example of a good report