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Lab Reports 

Before starting, review the following: 

  • assignment expectations  

  • learning goals 

  • the  pre-lab report (if applicable) 

Common Structure (NOTE: Always follow your course laboratory coordinator’s and professor’s instructions) 

Title Page 

Include course name, course code, title of lab with clarification of type of lab (pre-lab, in-lab, post-lab, formal lab report), students name(s), McMaster student ID number, instructors’ name, lab section and TAs name, if applicable include lab partner’s name & student number,  due date, McMaster University.  


Summarize major findings along with the problem and hypothesis. Clarify why the problem was studied and the approach used to study it. Describe major findings and conclusions.  


Provide an overview of the experiment and discuss how the results expand knowledge. 

Include past test results (if applicable) with statements supported by the peer reviewed scientific literature in the proper citation format.  

Use present tense for theory, equipment, and report, and past tense for results and experiment 

Methods and Materials 

State what was done and how (Instructions should facilitate experiment duplication) 

Include the experimental design, apparatus description, methods for gathering and interpreting results, and controls used 

Use past tense and the passive voice.  


Provide data and observations without interpreting their meaning or significance 

Describe events in the order they took place. 

Include tables (raw data) and graphs (interpreted data), calculations: Tables, figures and graphs should be properly numbered and include captions. Include proper units of measurement and legends. Figures and tables should be organized and clear (no fuzzy images).  

Maintain an adequate font size for graph legends. 

Include results that deviated from expectations (leave discussion for next section) 

Use past tense 


Follow the same order as Results section 

Analyse results: How do they relate to previous studies? Why did they occur?  

Identify patterns and relationships: How did results differ from expectations? How do they relate to theory? 


Briefly restate the purpose, results, and concluding interpretations 

Include recommendations for further study and/or suggest changes to the procedure.  

Support statements with scientific literature. Include research citations in the proper format.  


List references in the proper referencing format (as indicated by the instructor, TA, and lab coordinator). References should display strong evidence that has been recently published.   


Include data, calculations, graphics, and notes along with captions and titles 

Provide measurements and legend. 

Place each appendix on a separate page. 


Maintain a balanced perspective. 

Use clear and precise language 

Apply a logical structure. 


Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email

Source: University of Toronto (n.d.). The Lab Report. Retrieved from: UFT Lab Reports Writing Advice 

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