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RESEARCH PAPER FORMAT

TITLE Same as what is on your presentation piece (5 points)

1. Abstract 10 points
 Summarize in a concise paragraph the purpose of the report, data presented and major conclusions.
 The abstract is a short (less than 200 word) “executive summary” of your entire lab report.
 Its purpose is to communicate your entire lab report (procedure, results, and discussion) to somebody who
doesn’t have time to read it.
 An abstract is like Spark’s Notes for your lab report. For a high school lab report, it will probably be one
paragraph of 4–6 sentences.
 The first 1–2 sentences should describe the objective of the experiment and the procedure.
 The next 2–3 sentences should summarize the major results and conclusions, and the last sentence should
describe any possible sources of error, the percent error (for a quantitative lab), and any other limitations or
caveats on your conclusions.
 Abstracts are often published separately from the rest of the report, so your abstract must be complete
and make sense without any of the rest of your report. This means your abstract cannot refer the reader to
any other section of the report for tables, figures, or other information.

2. Introduction (10 points) Usually 3 paragraphs


 Describe the science behind your experiment, and should tell the reader why you performed it. Include the
beginning question(s) in this section. (this is the first paragraph)
 Include background information about the current research involved that drew you to your experiment,
and a summary of any prior related experiments. (this is the second paragraph)
 Explain how the above information has brought you to the experiment. The final sentence of the last
paragraph should state the objective (HYPOTHESIS) of your experiment, much like the final sentence of the
introduction section of a term paper usually states the thesis of the paper. (this is the 3rd paragraph)

3. Materials & Procedure – (10 points)


Summary of the procedure in paragraph form. Do not write a separate list of materials – these will all be
included when you write your procedure.

General Guidelines ( deviations will cost 1 point per error)

 Passive Voice

You have probably been told to avoid the passive voice by your English teachers. (The previous sentence
is an example of the passive voice; the active version would say, “Your English teachers have probably
told you to avoid the passive voice.”) However, scientists often use the passive voice, particularly when
describing experimental protocols. This is done intentionally, to emphasize the fact that the report is
about the experiment and its results. To your readers, the experiment is what matters; you are
irrelevant! For example, most scientist would write, “The solution was heated to 100°C for 25 minutes,”
rather than “the investigators heated the solution to 100°C for 25 minutes.”

 No First- or Second-Person Pronouns In formal writing, including lab reports, never use the first or
second person. Instead of saying “I dissolved 10.5 grams of NaOH in 100 mL of water,” or worse yet,
“You dissolve 8.5 g of sodium hydroxide in 100 mL of water,” you should say, “Sodium hydroxide 10.5 g
was dissolved in 100 mL of water.”

 Verb Tense Lab reports are written in a combination of past and present tense, depending what you
are writing about. If you are writing about things you did (actions that took place in the past), such as
the details of your procedure and the results that you observed, use the past tense. However, use the
present tense for trends and properties. For example, write “The solution was heated to 100°C for 25
minutes.” because that was a specific action that was carried out at a specific time in the past. However,
write “ammonia and hydrochloric acid react to produce ammonium chloride gas”, because this happens
every time these chemicals come into contact with each other.

 Numbers at the Beginning of Sentences

Never start a sentence with a numeral. (The figure “2” is a numeral; the word “two” is not.) However,
you need to report all numbers to the correct number of significant figures. This creates a problem: if
you added exactly 1.00 g of salicylic acid to a beaker, you can’t say “1.00 g salicylic acid was added. . . ”
because you can’t start a sentence with a numeral. However, you also can’t say “One gram of salicylic
acid was added. . . ” because you need three significant figures. You also can’t say “I added 1.00 g of
salicylic acid. . . ” because you can’t use first person. The solution is to start with the substance, and put
the exact amount in parentheses, e.g., “Salicylic acid (1.00 g) was added. . . ”

4. Data & Results / Calculations & Graphs (20 points)

You should have all data in tables with headings and labled as figures (Figure 1)
Graphs should be done in excel or google sheets with heading and labels.
Description of analysis should be included

 Concentrate on general trends and differences and not on trivial details.

 Summarize the data from the experiments without discussing their implications

 Organize data into tables, figures, graphs, photographs, etc. Data in a table should not be duplicated in a
graph or figure

 Title all figures and tables; include a legend explaining symbols, abbreviations, or special methods 
Number figures and tables separately and refer to them in the text by their number, i.e.

1. Figure 1 shows that the activity....

2. The activity decreases after five minutes (Fig. 1)

 You should show how your calculations are carried out. Give the equation used and show how your values
are substituted into it. Give the calculated values.

 If graphs are included, make the graphs an appropriate size. Label all axes and give each graph a title. If
experiments are not quantitative, this section may be omitted.
5. Discussions (15 points)

 Paragraph format

 Interpret the data; do not restate the results

 Relate results to existing theory and knowledge

 Explain the logic that allows you to answer your beginning questions

 Speculate as necessary but identify it as such

6. Conclusions (15 points)

 A short paragraph that answers your beginning question(s), relates it to your results and discussion, and
describes any future experiments or improvements that you would recommend.

Experimental Source of Error (10 Points)

 What are some specific sources of error, and how do they influence the data?

 Do they make values obtained larger or smaller than they should be?

 Which measurement was the least precise? Instrumental error and human error exist in all experiments,
and should not be mentioned as a source of error.

 In writing this section it is sometimes helpful to ask yourself what you would do differently if you were to
repeat the experiment and wanted to obtain better precision.  Include suggestions for improving your
techniques or design, or clarify areas of doubt for further research

 If you can calculate a percent error or percent deviation, do so and include it in this section.

7. References (5 points)

 A bibliography of all of the sources you got information from in your report.

REFERENCES:

Katz, David. General Chemistry Laboratory Survival Manual. Revised Edition ed. Plymouth, MI: Hayden‐
McNeil Publishing, Inc., 2006. Print.

Landsberger, Joe. "Lab safety: guildelines and resources." Study Guides and Strategies. N.p., n.d. Web. 18
Aug. 2011. .

Queeney, Kate. Guidelines for Writing a Formal Laboratory Report. Web. June 2004. Simpson, Bill.
Laboratory Report Style. Web. June 2004.

MUST BE IN APA FORMAT