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You might consider using each assignment to practice different approaches to drafting the report, to find the order that works best for you.The best way to prepare to write the lab report is to make sure that you fully understand everything you need to about the experiment.Thinking of your research report as based on the scientific method, but elaborated in the ways described above, may help you to meet your audience’s expectations successfully.

The people reading such reports have two primary goals: This format, sometimes called “IMRAD,” may take slightly different shapes depending on the discipline or audience; some ask you to include an abstract or separate section for the hypothesis, or call the Discussion section “Conclusions,” or change the order of the sections (some professional and academic journals require the Methods section to appear last).

You feel that you understood the background sufficiently, designed and completed the study effectively, obtained useful data, and can use those data to draw conclusions about a scientific process or principle. In fact, you and your teacher are both part of a scientific community, and the people who participate in this community tend to share the same values.

As long as you understand and respect these values, your writing will likely meet the expectations of your audience—including your teacher. The practical answer is “Because the teacher assigned it,” but that’s classroom thinking.

Readers of this handout may also find our handout on writing in the sciences useful.

You did an experiment or study for your science class, and now you have to write it up for your teacher to review. To take some of the guesswork out of answering these questions, try to think beyond the classroom setting.

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