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Lab Writeup, Rewriting some questions and answering others

Laboratory Report      Many of you may have written a lab report in high school and are familiar with the typical layout of one. The lab report is just a way to put together the information on a laboratory experience that explains to the reader the who, what, why, and how of that experience. It is set up similarly to a research article that would be submitted to a journal for publication. Although all professional journals have their particular format, the headings you will use in this report will generally be the ones you will see in a journal. Also in the sciences, all references are written in APA format. You do not need to write an abstract.      One of the issues that are common in student papers is internal citation. All referenced materials should correspond to an internal cite in the paper. If you do not cite an article, leave it out of your references. You need an internal citation after a piece of information that you took from a published article. If you use that information in two continuous sentences, you may wait until the end of the second sentence for those citations. If you quote an article you need an internal citation. Quotes should be the last resort in writing a lab report. You should read various sources and then combine and rearrange the information into your own words. A longer scientific paper may be appropriate for quotations. Parts of the Lab Report 1st Page – Title Page     Title of Laboratory Report (you could just use the title of the lab)      You’re Name      Your class identification (BIO 111 – section or instructors name) You do not need an abstract for this report. 2nd Page      Introduction – In this section, you are introducing your topic and providing the background information that your reader will need to understand your report. This is one of the sections where you use your background research. Be sure you include internal citations as well as listing those sources in your References section.     Explain your topic to your audience. Start with general remarks about your topic, i.e. it has been observed that if you mate a white male fruit fly with a red heterozygous female fly that …….. Or other appropriate sentences about your scientific observations and then a few sentences of background information on your topic. If you were doing a genetic experiment with fruit flies, you could explain why you are using fruit flies as your research organism and then what qualities of the fruit fly will allow you to test your hypothesis. In the introduction, you are preparing the reader with the information needed to understand your lab report. The final sentence provides your hypothesis. You may also set off your hypothesis by making it a subheading under the Introduction.      Research Methods and Materials – If you were writing a paper for publication, you would provide as much information as would be needed to perform the same experiment by someone else (remember scientific research has to be repeatable). Nevertheless, even in a publication, you would not write down all the tiny steps. Instead, you would give a summary as well as any resources to further give the reader the procedure needed to repeat the research. HOWEVER, in your lab report, you are probably working from a standard lab procedure that has been given to you. In that type of lab report, it is sufficient to simply write ‘this research was conducted using the procedure provide in’ and then give your source. It probably will be a lab handout, or a lab manual, or an experiment from a lab kit. If there are any modifications to the procedure, you will need to write those in this section. For example, if you incubated your bacteria for 36 hours instead of 24 hours, you would need to state that change in this section.      Results – This is the section in which you give the results of your experiment(s).  Although it is tempting to add remarks or conclusions in this section, they do not belong in Results. Save them for the Discussion/Conclusion.                  You want to include a written account of your experiment (s) results. This is really important and cannot be substituted with a graphic. If you were experimenting with those fruit flies, you might write “the F2 generation of fruit flies included white males and red females and males. There was were twenty white males hatched as adults but died before the culture was counted. “In those simple sentences, you have given your reader the results but have not made any conclusions as to why the white males died. You would then follow up on your written results with any illustrations of your results. Illustrations of your results might be pictures, data tables, graphs, or other ways to illustrate your information. As all illustrations need captions, you need to add a caption to your data table, graph, and pictures. You also need to label them. All graphs need titles, labels as to what the axes represent, the units, and possibly more to make the graph understandable. All data tables need titles, clear labels as to what the data is, and units. All pictures need captions with an explanation of the picture and the picture may also require units and other labels. Illustrations make your results more meaningful and should be used where appropriate.          Conclusion/Discussion – In this section, you want to review your results with your hypothesis. Restate your hypothesis and explain how your results support or do not support your hypothesis. Remember you cannot prove your hypothesis. Your research can support your hypothesis or you can reject your hypothesis based on your results. If you are supporting your hypothesis, state that is what you are doing, and explains how your research supports the hypothesis. If you are rejecting your hypothesis, explain how your research leads you to reject your hypothesis. Rejecting a hypothesis is not a failure. Science is all about learning what is supported by research and what is not.  These explanations should be several sentences long as you must provide evidence from your Results. When you have completed supporting or rejecting your hypothesis and supporting your decision with your results, then consider what your next step in this line of inquiry would be. In your fruit flies, you might decide you want to cross an ebony female with a white male and determine the percentage of offspring that are white. To be even more like a scientist, you can back up your next step with the logic of why that would be your next step and back that with library research. It might look something like this ‘the next cross in this research would be mating white males with ebony females. According to Miller (1965), the ebony fly eye color would be dominant over the white eye’. This is also a section where you may have cited references.          Reference Page – With our computers today, it is easy to write a reference page. You can use the reference tool to enter your information and the computer will put the page together in the format you would like to use. However, neither you nor the computer is perfect, so check your page to make sure all the required information is included. Make sure that any references that are downloaded are properly cited. This information should be on a separate page.