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How to Write a Lab

Report
How To Write a Lab Report
A couple points to keep in mind:
Use active voice over passive voice: We did this... reads better than This was done...
Correct grammar and spelling are important, so proofread!

Introduction: general specific

Follow the thought process behind developing the hypotheses before you looked at the data
Do NOT change the hypotheses
Whats the big picture? Think of your studys relation to important, broader issues. "Important" issues don't necessarily
mean curing cancer or eliminating world hunger; you can discuss the importance of understanding human evolution!
What was known before? Refer to findings of previous studies (citations are necessary!)
Remember to indicate what species they studied
Discuss the fitness benefits of the preference or advertised trait your experiment focuses on.
Lead into what your work is going to add (Previous conflicting results? Different approach?)
End on your hypotheses (what do you expect to find, why you think so)

Methods:

What did you do? Make it detailed enough to be able to repeat. Relevant information only.
This is written as a description of protocol, but it is NOT a step-by-step cookbook.
Explain why you set your protocol that way
Explain how you analyzed your data
For example, did you average preference scores? Did you correlate two variables? Etc.
Do NOT put results in this section; this is only for the explanation of how you collected and analysed.

Results:

What patterns did you find? Write what were the major trends.
No interpretations Be concise!
Use graphs (or tables) to represent findings [see Figures section below]
Do NOT throw out or ignore results
Do NOT present the same data in more than one way
Do NOT present raw data. The reader should not be able to tell how each of the 100 people you surveyed answered
your questions. Remember we care about the population as a whole.

Figures:

You can include the figures and/or tables in the Results section with the text or at the end of the document.
Figures and tables need fully explanatory captions of what is being displayed: below for figures, above for tables.
Numbering of figures and tables starts at 1 and continues in consecutive order, based on appearance of reference in
your papers text
Figures and tables have separate sets of numbering
Only include figures/tables that you refer to in text if youre including a figure/table, you need to talk about it in your
text.
How to refer to a figure/table within the text: X appears twice as often as Y (Figure 1).
NOT See Figure 1., Figure 1 shows something., etc.

Discussion: specific general

Start by addressing the original hypotheses: supported or refuted?


Do NOT say prove you cannot prove anything with one study.
It is OK if your hypothesis was refuted. There is no point to conducting an experiment if we always expect
to be right!
Discuss the results, major findings, any anomalies
Provide biological explanation of all results. Use the literature to support your ideas.
Discussion should tie back to introduction. Do not be afraid to revisit the topics you wrote about in your
introduction.
Problems with your study? How might these have affected the interpretation of the results? How might the study be
improved?
How do your results compare with other studies? What did you do similarly/differently?
Refer to the studies brought up in the introduction
Assume your findings are just as valid as theirs
What future research can be done? Why do your findings matter (big picture)?

Literature Cited:

At least 2 journal articles are required in your citations.

Reports with more citations tend to do much better.


Only include citations here that are actually cited in your papers text.
Citations should include:

Last name, first initial. Year published. Title of article. Journal title. Volume number: page numbers.

When citing within the text of the report: Female birds tend to prefer a male that has brightly colored feathers (Seamus
2009).

Skin Colors (Men)


Fair

light-medium

Fair

Medium

Tan

Dark

lll

ll

light-med
ium

lll

medium

ll

Tan

ll

lllll ll

lllll
ll

ll

Dark
Preferences
Preferred the same skin color 12/30 - .4
Preferred different skin color 18/30 - .6

Skin Colors (Women)


Fair
fair

light-medium

medium

tan

dark

ll

light-medium

ll

lllll

lll

medium

lllll

tan

lll

dark
Preferred the same skin color 11/30 - .366
Preferred different skin color 19/30 - .633

ll

l
l