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How To Write Biology Lab Report

How To Write Biology Lab Report

Very often laboratory reports are boring and exhausting. It seems so useless to spend much time writing what have been done in the lab experiment. But this is a good chance for practicing your spelling and analytical skills. It can be really simple if you follow general steps and logic. Read the article and learn how to write report quickly and easy. It will show you the main rules of writing good biology lab report: parts and steps, some common mistakes, and easy techniques.

Writing a biology lab report

Biology lab report is a description of the experiment and all its details and results. There are some guidelines that can help you to do it quickly. Each lab report requires the understanding of what has been done: mechanisms of the process you studied or watched, procedures and equipment you used and results you got. However, results may be incorrect or can be impaired by different errors. Biology is one of the sciences where this happens very often. Though all the experiments are based on the ideal processes and  only several factors are controlled, it is hard to predict all possible influences that can affect the results. One of the most important rules in writing lab report is to describe all that was observed during the experiment, even if it didn’t fit your expectations. The second important rule is to describe all the procedures that were conducted. Even if you changed any simple thing – point it. Write your report in such way that everyone else could repeat this experiment. Third, biology lab report is not only the retelling of your work, it requires analysis, interpretation and discussion of the results. So, using this three simple rules, you can impress your tutor and help your friends in future. Let’s sum up:

Lab report

Biology lab report is a first step for practicing writing of scientific papers. It must be written following general guidelines and should be concise and precise. At first, it must follow some style requirements:

  • it should be written in the 3rd person without using personal pronouns;
  • use past tense and passive voice describing what have been done;
  • use subheads for each section to separate logical parts (use bold or italic fonts);
  • while citing some papers or other types of sources, avoid quotations and excessive paraphrasing, use citing and referencing style as required;

Lab report steps

Your report must contain certain parts. You should follow these sections to describe your work correctly:

Abstract. This is a concise summary of the purpose of your work, general techniques, results and the conclusion. It should be a short single-paragraph story of your biology lab. Don’t write details about methods or analysis procedure; those should be written after finishing whole report. Read your text and briefly point main statements in the abstract.

Introduction. This is a literature review that gradually states the purpose of your work and procedures (in general!). At first, provide the background information of your topic using several scientific sources. It is very important to determine and explain the significance of your topic: why is this experiment important? Why does it require attention? How does it relate to biology knowledge? Or simply, how can this lab change the world? Next, you can state the hypothesis and determine the goal to prove or disapprove it. Finally, state methods used in this lab work and state what you measured or counted. Always try to do it brief – up to 1 page.

Methods. This is a description of your experiment procedure. Avoid inclusion of the results. Don’t write steps using list format: it should be a story of how you made it. Use passive voice, don’t simply copy-paste the lab protocol. If you don’t know how to write any step of procedure, ask yourself whether it is essential for the experiment and could affect the results. I.e., “…tubes were marked A, B, C. Three grams of glucose was placed into each tube.” This two phrases can be changed to: “Three grams of glucose were placed into three labeled tubes”. It doesn’t matter how you will mark each tube.

Results. This is a description of your obtained results, what you have got using reported procedures. Give the answer to the question, “What happened?”.  You should not explain or interpret your results. It is important to use figures, tables and graphs with appropriate descriptions (legends) to each of them. They also must be described in the Results section text. Chose the appropriate form of results visualization: graphs and diagrams are better than tables, though sometimes the latter may be required in the appendix. Always give the names to figures, graphs, label axes, and units.

Discussion/Conclusions. Here we are. In fact, this is the most important section, showing your understanding of the results and their interpretation. Give the answer on the question “Why did it happen?”. At first, it requires brief and general restatement of your results (not re-writing Results section!). Be ready to explain your results especially if they are unexpected and unusual. Confirm or disprove your stated hypothesis basing on your results. Explain why you got some sorts of errors, how they can be removed. Also, you can discuss how the experiment could be modified. Here, the citations are also required to help you to explain your results. Sometimes Conclusions are needed after or even instead of the Discussion section. It is a summary of the results and discussion. Briefly reformulate these sections to confirm your hypothesis.

There are some minor general tips in biology texts that seem unnecessary but they are important to show your diligence to your work:

  • at the beginning of the sentence, spell out numbers: “Ten milliliters of water was added” instead of “10 ml of water was added”;
  • be consistent in units abbreviation: “Next, 5 ml of water was added to 10 ml of solution” instead of “Next, 5 mL of water was added to 10ml of solution”;
  • always define the abbreviations when first used: “double-distilled water (ddH2O)”;
  • names of species used in italicized: Homo sapiens instead of Homo sapiens;

Biology studying

After writing your report, always read it several times. At first, analyze it in general: does it answer all the questions that have been asked earlier? Then, read each paragraph with maximal attention and analyze the structure of your sentences. Only then, proofread – check your spelling and correct grammar mistakes. It is very important to give your final report for reading to your friends. It would be a great help if you read the lab reports of each other. Your friend can notice those mistakes you have missed or can tell if he/she understands everything. But remember that lab report must be your own work without copying someones results.

Writing a good lab report requires a lot of practice, experience and skills. That’s why first lab reports should be prepared with someone’s help or critical analysis. Our service, Assignment Expert, provides help with biology lab report in any biology sphere, where experts are ready to advise on your report, analyze the results of your experiment and make the conclusion.