- PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
- EDIT Edit this Article
- EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
- Browse Articles
- Learn Something New
- Quizzes Hot
- This Or That Game New
- Train Your Brain
- Explore More
- Support wikiHow
- About wikiHow
- Log in / Sign up
- Education and Communications
- Science Writing
How to Write a Good Lab Conclusion in Science
Last Updated: June 4, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Bess Ruff, MA . Bess Ruff is a Geography PhD student at Florida State University. She received her MA in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016. She has conducted survey work for marine spatial planning projects in the Caribbean and provided research support as a graduate fellow for the Sustainable Fisheries Group. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,740,564 times.
A lab report describes an entire experiment from start to finish, outlining the procedures, reporting results, and analyzing data. The report is used to demonstrate what has been learned, and it will provide a way for other people to see your process for the experiment and understand how you arrived at your conclusions. The conclusion is an integral part of the report; this is the section that reiterates the experiment’s main findings and gives the reader an overview of the lab trial. Writing a solid conclusion to your lab report will demonstrate that you’ve effectively learned the objectives of your assignment.
Outlining Your Conclusion
- Restate : Restate the lab experiment by describing the assignment.
- Explain : Explain the purpose of the lab experiment. What were you trying to figure out or discover? Talk briefly about the procedure you followed to complete the lab.
- Results : Explain your results. Confirm whether or not your hypothesis was supported by the results.
- Uncertainties : Account for uncertainties and errors. Explain, for example, if there were other circumstances beyond your control that might have impacted the experiment’s results.
- New : Discuss new questions or discoveries that emerged from the experiment.
- Your assignment may also have specific questions that need to be answered. Make sure you answer these fully and coherently in your conclusion.
Discussing the Experiment and Hypothesis
- If you tried the experiment more than once, describe the reasons for doing so. Discuss changes that you made in your procedures.
- Brainstorm ways to explain your results in more depth. Go back through your lab notes, paying particular attention to the results you observed.  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- Start this section with wording such as, “The results showed that…”
- You don’t need to give the raw data here. Just summarize the main points, calculate averages, or give a range of data to give an overall picture to the reader.
- Make sure to explain whether or not any statistical analyses were significant, and to what degree, such as 1%, 5%, or 10%.
- Use simple language such as, “The results supported the hypothesis,” or “The results did not support the hypothesis.”
Demonstrating What You Have Learned
- If it’s not clear in your conclusion what you learned from the lab, start off by writing, “In this lab, I learned…” This will give the reader a heads up that you will be describing exactly what you learned.
- Add details about what you learned and how you learned it. Adding dimension to your learning outcomes will convince your reader that you did, in fact, learn from the lab. Give specifics about how you learned that molecules will act in a particular environment, for example.
- Describe how what you learned in the lab could be applied to a future experiment.
- On a new line, write the question in italics. On the next line, write the answer to the question in regular text.
- If your experiment did not achieve the objectives, explain or speculate why not.
Wrapping Up Your Conclusion
- If your experiment raised questions that your collected data can’t answer, discuss this here.
- Describe what is new or innovative about your research.
- This can often set you apart from your classmates, many of whom will just write up the barest of discussion and conclusion.
Finalizing Your Lab Report
- If you include figures or tables in your conclusion, be sure to include a brief caption or label so that the reader knows what the figures refer to. Also, discuss the figures briefly in the text of your report. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Once again, avoid using personal pronouns (I, myself, we, our group) in a lab report. The first-person point-of-view is often seen as subjective, whereas science is based on objectivity. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Ensure the language used is straightforward with specific details. Try not to drift off topic. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Take care with writing your lab report when working in a team setting. While the lab experiment may be a collaborative effort, your lab report is your own work. If you copy sections from someone else’s report, this will be considered plagiarism. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://phoenixcollege.libguides.com/LabReportWriting/introduction
- ↑ https://www.hcs-k12.org/userfiles/354/Classes/18203/conclusionwriting.pdf
- ↑ https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/Pages/puttingittogether.aspx
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
- ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/types-of-writing/lab-report/
- ↑ http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/hypothes.php
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/conclusion
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/introduction/researchproblem
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/scientific-reports/
- ↑ https://phoenixcollege.libguides.com/LabReportWriting/labreportstyle
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
About This Article
To write a good lab conclusion in science, start with restating the lab experiment by describing the assignment. Next, explain what you were trying to discover or figure out by doing the experiment. Then, list your results and explain how they confirmed or did not confirm your hypothesis. Additionally, include any uncertainties, such as circumstances beyond your control that may have impacted the results. Finally, discuss any new questions or discoveries that emerged from the experiment. For more advice, including how to wrap up your lab report with a final statement, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No
- Send fan mail to authors
Reader Success Stories
Oct 5, 2017
Did this article help you?
Jun 13, 2017
Sep 7, 2017
Jan 16, 2017
Oct 29, 2017
- Do Not Sell or Share My Info
- Not Selling Info
Don’t miss out! Sign up for
- Monash Online
Student Academic Success
- 1:1 Consultation 1:1 Consultation
- Study better Study better
- Build digital capabilities Build digital capabilities
- Understand assessments Understand assessments
- Excel at writing Excel at writing
- Enhance your thinking Enhance your thinking
- Present confidently Present confidently
- Collaborate with others Collaborate with others
- Improve your academic English Improve your academic English
- Maintain academic integrity Maintain academic integrity
- Advance your graduate studies Advance your graduate studies
- Workshops Workshops
- Feedback studio Feedback studio
- About us About us
- Skip to content
- Skip to navigation
Science: Lab report
What is a science lab report.
A science lab report is a structured way of communicating the outcomes of your practical work.
The structure of a typical lab report includes the following sections:
- Aim and Hypothesis - Why you conducted the practical work.
- Method - How you conducted the practical work and how any data processed.
- Results - What was the data, process or product obtained from the practical work.
- Discussion - How your results addressed your aim and hypothesis.
- Conclusion - What was the overall outcome of your practical work and how do your finding relate to the larger body of scientific knowledge.
You can apply the common report writing techniques outlined below, after always checking the specific details of your assignment.
Top tips for science lab reports View
Lab report structure.
The title describes the purpose of the practical work in precise terms.
The majority of your practical work will involve measurements, observations or the creation of some object of interest. For example: The Period of a Simple Pendulum
It is clear from the above lab report title that it describes the measurement of a property called a ‘period’, and the object of interest is a ‘simple pendulum’.
Check your understanding View
The abstract provides a brief overview of the practical work, including key results and conclusions.
Keep your abstract short, i.e. about one paragraph or 250 to 500 words. It must be clear enough that the reader can understand a summary of the report without needing to read the rest of it.
In general, the abstract should answer six questions. Addressing each question only requires one to two sentences:
- Why was the experiment conducted? (big-picture/real-world view).
- What specific problem/research question was being addressed?
- What methods were used to solve the problem/answer the question?
- What results were obtained?
- What do these results mean?
- How do the results answer the overall question or improve our understanding of the problem?
Shorter lab reports may not require an abstract, so check your guidelines first.
The introduction is where you introduce the reader to the broader context of your practical work and then narrow down to the hypothesis, aims or research question you intend to address.
You should also succinctly explain relevant theory and discuss any relevant laws, equations or theorems.
The method section is where you describe what you actually did during the practical work. You need to describe the actions you took in a way that someone from your field has enough information to replicate the process and achieve a similar result.
You must also include any unplanned changes to the original process which occurred during the execution of the experiment. A great way to keep track of this is to use a lab notebook during the practical work to note any change you make.
Turn lab instructions into a lab report method
A common mistake students make is copying the instructions their teachers provide directly into their method section. You will generally be provided with a set of instructions to complete your practical work. These instructions are NOT written in the style of a laboratory report. A typical set of instructions usually includes:
- How the apparatus and equipment were set up (e.g. experimental set-up), usually including a diagram.
- A list of materials used.
- Steps used to collect the data.
- Any experimental difficulties encountered and how they were resolved or worked around.
Below is an example of the instructions provided to a student to carry out a first year chemistry experiment.
Phrases are used here to specifically instruct the student who may be performing the technique for the first time. This is different from a lab report where you are reporting on what you did. For example, the instructions say:
- 'use a clear pipette…'
- 'rinse the burette…'
- 'remember to take the reading from the centre of the meniscus…'
These are not appropriate phrases to include in the lab report.
Also note that the language of the instructions is in the present tense in bullet points. The method section of your report should instead be written in the past tense as a cohesive paragraph.
However, there are ways you can change the language of the instructions to write your method section.
Below is an example of how these lab instructions were summarised into a method in a laboratory report:
Lab report: method
25ml of HCl(aq) was pipetted into a 100ml conical flask. A burette was then filled with standardised NaOH(aq). A sheet of white paper was placed under the burette. The conical flask was placed onto the white paper and five drops of universal indicator was added to the flask. The standardised NaOH(aq) was titrated into the flask with constant swirling until there was an observable colour change.
How to change lab instructions into a lab method
How to use a passive voice in lab reports.
While most science units require that you report in the passive voice , some require the active voice . In the example below, the first person plural is used in the active voice, i.e. "we initiated". Usage of the active voice is accepted in some disciplines, but not others. Check your unit information or talk to your teacher.
While in science the passive voice is generally preferred, some disciplines may allow or prefer the active voice. Read samples of student reports below and identify which examples are written in passive voice, and which use active voice.
The results section is where you present a summary of the data collected during your experiments. This section is not just a copy of the raw data from your lab notebook. Rather, it may involve calculation, analysis and the drawing up of tables and figures to present your data.
When you take your raw data and perform some sort of mathematical operation to change it, it is good practice to show the equations you used in your analysis, as well as one worked example using each equation. Calculations that are very long or repeated multiple times are usually included in an appendix (see below).
In some disciplines, if formulae are used, it is common to number them as equations:
Error analysis is a type of calculation that indicates the accuracy of your results, usually done by determining the level of uncertainty. The sources of error that you need to consider will vary between experiments and disciplines, but you will usually need to factor in both random and systematic errors.
Any analysis and calculations of the errors or uncertainties in the experiment are included in the results section unless otherwise specified. In some disciplines the analysis and uncertainty calculations are presented under their own heading. Check the requirements given in your unit information or lab manual, or ask your tutor if you are unsure where to place calculations
Tables and figures
Most numerical data are presented using tables or figures. These need to be clearly labelled following the standard conventions for captions, and titles must tell the reader precisely what data is being presented.
If a measurement is stated in the title, in a column of a table or on the axis of a graph and it has units associated with it, these must be included (usually in brackets).
The table below presents a series of measurements collected during an experiment. Notice the units in every column with the brackets. Some measurements such as pH or C p do not have units.
The figure below is a graphical representation of aerodynamic measurements. Notice the axes are labelled with appropriate units and the caption at the bottom of the figure clearly describes what the figure is about.
Figures can also be a wide variety of images. The figure below is an image taken from a type of molecular microscope. Notice the caption at the bottom of the figure clearly describing the figure and the specification of the magnification of the microscope.
If you must use figures from another source, indicate in the citation whether you have modified it in any way to avoid collusion or plagiarism .
The discussion section is where you interpret and evaluate your results. To do this you need to summarise your key results, summarise unexpected results, and explain how your results relate to your aims, hypotheses or literature as stated at the start of the report. Here are some tips on writing discussion sections:
Identify and describe any trends or patterns you have observed. If these are numerical trends, state the values. Avoid using unspecific words such as ‘higher, lower, increased, decreased’, which can make the information vague.
Compare the experimental results with any predictions you made.
Interpret what the results mean in relation to the aims, research question(s) or hypothesis.
Describe any results which were unexpected or didn’t match your predictions.
Suggest explanations for unexpected results based on the theory and procedures of the experiment.
Evaluate how any sources of error might impact on the interpretation of your results in relation to the aims, research question(s) or hypothesis.
- State the limitations of the study and link to literature
Clarify how the limitations of the study might affect the accuracy and precision of the answers to your aim, research question or hypothesis.
Suggest how the experiment or analysis could have been improved. A longer report may require support from the academic literature.
Explain how your results do or do not address your aim, research question or hypothesis, and indicate future directions for the research.
The discussion example below is from a first-year Biology unit. The aim of this experiment was to identify decomposition rates of leaf breakdown to establish rates of energy transfer.
Drag each description of each component of the Discussion section to its example. Notice the order in which the components make up a coherent Discussion section.
Students often make the mistake of thinking a conclusion section is identical to a discussion section.
The conclusion section is where you summarise your report. A conclusion is usually one paragraph or 200 to 300 words. In this way a conclusion is very similar to an abstract, but with more emphasis on the results and discussion.
A conclusion never introduces any new ideas or results. Rather, it provides a concise summary of those which have already been presented in the report. When writing a conclusion you should:
- briefly restate the purpose of the experiment (i.e. the question it was seeking to answer)
- identify the main findings (i.e. the answer to the research question)
- note the main limitations that are relevant to the interpretation of the results
- summarise what the experiment has contributed to the broader understanding of the problem.
Conclusion example with feedback
When in-text citations are incorporated into your lab report (typically in the introduction or discussion) you must always have the full references included in a separate reference list. The reference list is a separate section that comes after your conclusion (and before any appendices). Check your lab manual or unit information to determine which referencing style is preferred. Carefully follow that referencing style for your in-text references and reference list. You can find examples and information about common referencing styles in the Citing and referencing Library guide . The following is an example of a reference list based on the in-text citations used in the Introduction and Conclusion sections in this tutorial. This example has been formatted in accordance with the CSIRO referencing style .
Jones T, Smith K, Nguyen P, di Alberto P (2017) Effects of habitat overlap on population sampling. Environmental Ecology Journal 75 , 23-29. doi: 10.5432/1111.23
Tian M, Castillo TL (2016) Solar heating uptake in Australia: rates, causes and effects. Energy Efficiency Reports. Report no. 10, The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Canberra.
An appendix (plural = appendices) contains material that is too detailed to include in the main report, such as tables of raw data or detailed calculations.
Each appendix must be:
- given a number (or letter) and title
- referred to by number (or letter) at the relevant point in the text.
The calculated values are shown in Table 3 below. For detailed calculations, see Appendix 1.
Your feedback matters
We want to hear from you! Let us know what you found most useful or share your suggestions for improving this resource.
Scientific Method: Step 6: CONCLUSION
- Step 1: QUESTION
- Step 2: RESEARCH
- Step 3: HYPOTHESIS
- Step 4: EXPERIMENT
- Step 5: DATA
- Step 6: CONCLUSION
Step 6: Conclusion
Finally, you've reached your conclusion. Now it is time to summarize and explain what happened in your experiment. Your conclusion should answer the question posed in step one. Your conclusion should be based solely on your results.
Think about the following questions:
- Was your hypothesis correct?
- If your hypothesis wasn't correct, what can you conclude from that?
- Do you need to run your experiment again changing a variable?
- Is your data clearly defined so everyone can understand the results and follow your reasoning?
Remember, even a failed experiment can yield a valuable lesson.
Scientific Method: Conclusion
By Janice VanCleave
A conclusion is a summary of the experiment.
For a cause-effect experiment, the conclusion should state the hypothesis and and tell whether the results of the experiment supported the hypothesis. If the results did not support your hypothesis, say so, and then add information about why this happened.
If the cause-effect experiment has the following problem, hypothesis,data, and results, the conclusion might be stated as shown below:
How does amount of yellow coloring added to blue water affect the shade of green produced?
If the amount of yellow coloring is increased, then the green shade of the water increases.
Data: The chart is an example—-Is it correct?
( Challenge: Perform the experiment and let me know your results.)
Right or wrong, the data chart is used to write the results
As the amount of yellow is added to the blue water, the color changes to blue-green, which changes to green, and then to a yellow-green.
My hypothesis for this investigation was, “If the amount of yellow coloring is increased, then the green shade of the water increases.” The results of the experiment did not totally support my hypothesis. The first three measurements of yellow supported my hypothesis that adding yellow to the blue solution would increase the production of a green solution. But, as more yellow was added, the solution’s color became more yellow.
Often the results of an experiment will bring up questions that lead to further investigations.
For examples of further investigation ideas for the cause-effect experiment used for this conclusion example, can be found in this book:
Great Science Project Ideas from Real Kids