How to Write a Lab Report on Data Analysis

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The work of a scientist or research professional does not end when the data are analyzed and the study is completed. The results have to be written in the form of a report that the researcher can use to communicate findings to fellow scholars and scientists. This means writing a thorough lab report that outlines the research problem, describes the data collected, presents data analysis results and reports conclusions. Generally, writing data analysis in a lab report requires a similar approach to writing a paper for an academic journal.

  • Sketch the theoretical background that informs your study, thereby placing your experiment in the proper context. In an academic journal article, this section can be quite long, as it includes an extensive review of the relevant literature. A lab report, in contrast, is more concise; therefore, the background section should be brief.

  • State your research question or questions, and outline the methodology you will follow to obtain the answer(s). This section of your lab report will describe the purpose of your experiment and the procedure you will follow. This section will describe any statistical procedures or equations that you will use in your data analysis.

  • Describe the data collected and analyzed for your experiment. For a lab report, the data consist not only of raw numbers (quantitative data), but of sensory observations (things seen, touched, heard or smelled; lab experiments generally do not involve taste). These data are qualitative. Lab experiments often involve quantitative and qualitative data.

  • Report the results of your data analysis. In a lab report, this is often the longest section. Show a sample calculation of any equations or statistical procedures you used, showing the solution obtained from the data you analyzed. Use tables and graphs to illustrate the results of the data analysis, providing text for support. When writing text references to tables and charts, remember to highlight what is significant about the graphic; don’t report the entire contents. Describe anything that occurred during the experiment that could have affected your results, as well as anything unusual or unexpected.

  • Write the conclusions section of your lab report, summarizing what you learned from the experiment. Describe how your results fit into the larger theoretical material described earlier in your report. If your conclusions differ, explain what could have led to the disagreement. Include any new issues or research questions raised by your study that could not be answered with the data you analyzed.

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