Selecting a Topic
The lab report is a semester long project. You will choose one of the following lab topics to write your report:
- Air Quality
- Water Quality
- Plant Contamination
The purpose of the lab report is to expand on a topic covered in class and present the results of an experiment in a formal report. While the lab manual provides some background information in each chapter, the lab report requires you to conduct an independent literature review. This said, you should not repeat what is said in the lab manual, nor should you use the same sources.
General Instructions for writing a lab report
- Lab reports must be typed (double-spaced), with proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.
- If you have questions, discuss them with the instructor BEFORE they are to be handed in, preferably during office hours.
- Draft sections will be due as scheduled, graded and returned to you for improvement before being compiled into the final report (see syllabus).
- Title and byline: Make your title concise and informative; include your name, date and lab section.
- Your first sentence (topic sentence) should introduce the ‘big picture concept’ of your research.
- Provide background information on the study’s topic and why it is relevant.
- You should have a minimum of 3 primary sources. To cite your references in text, list the author’s last name and year of the publication at the end of the sentence in which you used information from that source. For example, “Coliform bacteria will not likely cause illness, but their presence in water indicates that other pathogens could be present (Washington, 2008).” For two authors: (Smith & Smith, 2000). For more than two authors: (Smith et al. 2000).
- The research question should:
- fit into a larger issue
- be narrow enough to study
- lend itself to testable hypotheses
- Determine your X-variable (treatment) and Y-variable (response)
- The objective for your research and a clear hypothesis should be stated at the end of the Introduction.
- Describe the study area. Include location, general natural history and description about treatments (including the management purpose for the treatment).
- Describe how the data were collected. Keep the description specific to the data you are using in your analysis only.
- Include types of treatments, areas (size), number of replicates, etc.
- Names and model numbers of special equipment, along with quantities of materials used should be included.
- Describe the type of lab analysis used to qualify your data (i.e., soil processing, invertebrate sorting, etc.)
- Include a description and explanation of all calculations and statistics. Identify the software package used (Excel in this case) and the type of analysis conducted. Identify your X-variable(s) and your Y-variable(s)
- Your methods should provide enough detailed information that anyone can replicate your exact experiment even if they have never done it before.
- Present your findings—include charts, graphs, figures, tables and pertinent analyses.
- Include a table that lists the raw data collected (sites, treatments, observations, etc.)
- Include at least 1 figure of what you are comparing with your x-variable and your y-variable. Write a sentence or two that describes the trend that you see in the figure.
- Write about the results of your statistical analysis. Include:
- The p-value of your overall test.
- A sentence that states whether your statistical test supported or failed to support your hypothesis.
- The discussion explains the significance of your work. Begin by reviewing the purpose, data and original question.
- Then, formulate a conclusion discussing the fundamental points that were demonstrated. Organize this section around the main points from your introduction (rationale for study, etc.) and then expand on those points using your results.
- Did the results support or refute your original hypothesis? Why or why not?
- What implications are suggested? Avoid the concept of “proof.” Hypotheses may “fail to be rejected” or may be supported, but are not proven. Results “indicate” or “demonstrate” a point, but they do not prove a point.
- On which assumptions did you base your conclusions and what shortcomings do they present? What further research needs to be done?
- Provide a brief synopsis of your entire report. Include the objective, your hypothesis, and your results.
- Works Cited:
- At least three sources, including one primary source, should be cited in your lab report. Give the full citation of literature cited in your report using MLA formatting (Guide to MLA Formatting: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/).
Note: The report is due in portions
Draft Introduction & Literature cited 25 pts
Draft Methods 25 pts
Draft Results, Discussion & Conclusions 25 pts
Final report 75 pts
Total value 150 pts
For your lab reports you are required to use and cite at least three primary sources.
What is a Primary Source?
- Primary sources present original thinking, report on discoveries, or share new information.
- Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based
- They are usually the first formal appearance of results in the print or electronic literature (for example, the first publication of the results of scientific investigations is a primary source.)
- They present information in its original form, neither interpreted nor condensed nor evaluated by other writers.
Examples of Primary Sources:
- Scientific journal articles reporting experimental research results
- Proceedings of Meetings, Conferences and Symposia.
- Technical reports
- Dissertations or theses (may also be secondary)
- Newspaper articles (may also be secondary)
- Government documents
- Sets of data, such as census statistics
- Interviews, surveys and fieldwork
Where to Look for Primary Sources:
- OhioLINK electronic journal finder is good for deciding which journals are appropriate to search and it provides links directly to the journals. http://www.ohiolink.edu/resources/ejournals.php
- JSTOR has full text scientific journal articles http://www.jstor.org/
- UT Library page: http://www.utoledo.edu/library/
- Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/
- Wikipedia is NOT an appropriate source!