1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Biology Lab Reports

Lab Report Format

By

Medical student holding flask with red liquid

A lab report conveys how well you can perform an experiment, how much you understand about the experimentation process, and how well you can convey that information in an organized fashion.

Cultura Science/Matt Lincoln/ Riser/ Getty Images

Biology Lab Reports

If you are taking a general biology course or AP Biology, at some point you will have to do lab experiments. This means that you will also have to complete biology lab reports.

The purpose of writing a lab report is to determine how well you performed your experiment, how much you understood about what happened during the experimentation process, and how well you can convey that information in an organized fashion.

Lab Report Format

A good lab report format includes six main sections:
  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Conclusion
  • References
Keep in mind that individual instructors may have a specific format that they require you to follow. Please be sure to consult your teacher about the specifics of what to include in your lab report.

Title:

The title states the focus of your experiment. The title should be to the point, descriptive, accurate, and concise (ten words or less). If your instructor requires a separate title page, include the title followed by the name(s) of the project participant(s), class title, date, and instructors name. If a title page is required, consult your instructor about the specific format for the page.

Introduction:

The introduction of a lab report states the purpose of your experiment. Your hypothesis should be included in the introduction, as well as a brief statement about how you intend to test your hypothesis.

To be sure that you have a good understanding of your experiment, some educators suggest writing the introduction after you have completed the methods and materials, results, and conclusion sections of your lab report.

Methods and Materials:

This section of your lab report involves producing a written description of the materials used and the methods involved in performing your experiment. You should not just record a list of materials, but indicate when and how they were used during the process of completing your experiment.

The information you include should not be overly detailed, but should include enough detail so that someone else could perform the experiment by following your instructions.

Results:

The results section should include all tabulated data from observations during your experiment. This includes charts, tables, graphs, and any other illustrations of data you have collected. You should also include a written summary of the information in your charts, tables, and/or other illustrations. Any patterns or trends observed in your experiment or indicated in your illustrations should be noted as well.

Discussion and Conclusion:

This section is where you summarize what happened in your experiment. You will want to fully discuss and interpret the information. What did you learn? What were your results? Was your hypothesis correct, why or why not? Were there any errors? If there is anything about your experiment that you think could be improved upon, provide suggestions for doing so.

Citation/References:

All references used should be included at the end of your lab report. That includes any books, articles, lab manuals, etc. that you used when writing your report.

Example APA citation formats for referencing materials from different sources are listed below.
  • Book
    Name of author or authors (last name, first initial, middle initial)
    Year of publication
    Title of book
    Edition (if more than one)
    Place where published (city, state) followed by a colon
    Publisher name

    For example: Smith, J. B. (2005). Science of Life. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Thompson Brooks.
  • Journal
    Name of author or authors (last name, first initial, middle initial)
    Year of publication
    Article title
    Journal title
    Volume followed by issue number (issue number is in parenthesis)
    Page numbers

    For example: Jones, R. B. & Collins, K. (2002). Creatures of the desert. National Geographic. 101(3), 235-248.
Your instructor may require that you follow a specific citation format. Be sure to consult your teacher concerning the citation format that you should follow.

What is an Abstract?

Some instructors also require that you include an abstract in your lab report. An abstract is a concise summary of your experiment. It should include information about the purpose of the experiment, the problem being addressed, the methods used for solving the problem, overall results from the experiment, and the conclusion drawn from your experiment.

The abstract typically comes at the beginning of the lab report, after the title, but should not be composed until your written report is completed.

To view a sample lab report template, see: Lab Report Example.

Do Your Own Work

Remember that lab reports are individual assignments. You may have a lab partner, but the work that you do and report on should be your own.

Always give credit where credit is due in your report. You don't want to plagiarize the work of others. That means you should properly acknowledge the statements or ideas of others in your report.

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Biology
  4. Homework Help/Lesson Plans
  5. Biology Lab
  6. Biology Lab Reports

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.