Lab Formats


When scientists do an experiment, it is important that they keep a complete and accurate record of how they did their experiment, what their results were, and what conclusions were formed from these results.  In order to do this, they write up a lab report. While you are studying science at Bonney Lake High School, there will be occasions when it will be required that you write up a lab report.  The general format and descriptions of sections for writing a laboratory report is different depending on the type of investigation you perform. The two main types of labs we will be dooing in this class include DISCOVERY and INQUIRY and the format for each can be found by clicking on the respective link or scrolling down below. 


  1. Background Information

-Answer pre-lab questions to access what you already know

  1. Procedure and Materials

-Draw labeled pictures for each procedural step you perform

-Include all materials and amounts in drawing

  1. Data

-Quantitative data recorded in labeled data table

*Include Title, all columns labeled, all units and all data


-Qualitative observations

*Indicate What happened and When it happened

*At least 3 in a bulleted list

*Record anything that goes wrong during the experiment as you are investigating

  1. Conclusion

-Revisit Pre-Lab Questions

*How does what you learned through your testing support/modify/extend your prior answer to these questions?


-Errors/Unusual events

*Describe any events that occurred that may have affected the data collected

-Possible Effects of Errors

*Describe how the error or unusual events actually affected the data



*Describe how to improve the experiment for the observer/reader


-Explanation of Scientific Theory/Real World Application

*What larger scientific concept does your investigation contribute to? OR

*What real world application can be gained from this experiment?


-New Question

*What is a new testable question that you have based on this discovery experiment?




   1. Research Question/Problem Statement

             This part of the lab introduces the purpose of the experiment. It is a question that is testable using the scientific method. These are two examples of how one might be written and can be chosen based on the type of experiment or personal preference.

                  A. How does (the manipulated variable) affect (the responding variable)?

                  B. What effect does (the manipulated variable) have on (the responding variable)?

   2. Hypothesis

             This part of the lab report allows the experimenter to use their prior knowledge to predict what will happen. It is a testable explanation based on what is known. A hypothesis has to have a prediction and a “because” statement- or a reason why. This “because” does not have to be correct, but it does have to be thoughtful and based on prior knowledge.

             If your experiment has multiple trials your hypothesis will be:

                  If (the manipulated variable) is (describe the way you will change it), then (the responding variable) will (describe the effect of the change) because (explain why you believe it will happen).

            Others can have simple hypotheses such as:

                 The ( manipulated variable) will affect (the responding variable) by (explain how it will be affected), because (explain why you believe it will happen).

    3. Variables

            These are the factors that will be involved in the experiment.

            Manipulated Variable (MV) (Independent Variable)- The factor being tested of that is changed on purpose by the investigator.

            Responding Variable (RV) (Dependent Variable)- The factor that is being measured and recorded.

            Controlled Variables- The factors kept the same from trial to trial. This will ensure that it is the manipulated variable that is causing the change (if any).

     4. Procedures and Materials

            If the procedures are provided, this section must include:
             -Diagram/Drawing of the procedures, Step-by-step and with labels of the materials used and their amounts

            If the investigator is designing their own investigation they must include:

o Bulleted List
                 o Includes everything used in the experiment
                 o Includes amounts when appropriate

                 1. Use a Numbered List
                 2. Step by Step directions that are logical (anyone can follow it)
                 3. All steps included- Complete
                 4. Says “Record Data”
                 5. Says “Repeat Trials for Accuracy” (if necessary)

      5. Data and Observations

             This section of the lab report has tables and observations that show what happened in the experiment. You will refer to this section often in your analysis and conclusion.

 Indicate What and When/ Qualitative Data
                    Bulleted list
                    At least 3
                    Record anything that goes wrong during the experiment here as you are investigating

            Data Table-
                     Title (such as MV vs RV)
                     All Columns labeled
                     All Units included
                     All data present
                     Made by computer (for formal write-up)


MV (units)  RV (units) Average (units)
1st level of MV data data data Average data
2nd level of MV  data  data  data Average data
3rd level of MV  data  data  data Average data
  Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3  

       6. Analysis

              This section is where the investigator analyzes their data and indicates what they find, overall. This section is reserved for calculations and processing of data. Here you show all the calculations you make, using the raw data, to determine your values. These can also include calculations of averages (means) and percent error. Answers to pre-made questions may also be included in this section. A graph can be generated by using average data. In this section there will also be any mathematical calculations to make sense of data collected.

Line Graphs

These represent continuous data such as changes over time.







Dot Graphs (Scatter Graphs)

These are used to show the relationship of variables that are not continuous.


Bar Graphs

Description: are used to represent different categories of data (x axis) compared to the responding variable (y axis).


Example :


       7. Conclusion

            The conclusion summarizes the entire experiment and opens the door to another possible experiment in the  future. It must address all of the following parts (in paragraph form with complete sentences).

            Relationship Statement
                o Describe the relationship that was discovered in this experiment such as based on the evidence you collected in this experiment.

           Support or Not Support Hypothesis
                o Summarize your hypothesis
                o State whether your experiment either supported or refuted your original hypothesis

           Support this Position with Data and Calculations
                o Use average high and low data or mathematical calculations as evidence for either supporting or rejecting the hypothesis

           Errors/Unusual events
                o Describe any events that occurred that may have affected the data collected

           Possible Effects of Errors
                o Describe how the error or unusual events actually affected the data

                o Describe how to improve the experiment for the observer/reader

           Explanation of Scientific Theory/Real World Application
                o What larger scientific concept does your investigation contribute to? OR
                o What real world application can be gained from this experiment?

           New Question
                o Write a new investigative question (in proper form) to further your understanding of this concept.


This experiment showed that (MV) effected the (RV) by (describe the general outcome). My experiment supported my original hypothesis that if the (MV) increased than the (RV) would also increase. This can be seen in the average data from our experiment. When the (MV) was ___________ the (RV) was (average low data with units), and when the (MV) was __________ the (RV) was (average high data with units). From this data we can say that the higher the (MV) the higher the (RV). During this lab, the power suddenly went out in the middle of our experiment. This may have affected our data by decreasing the (RV) slightly but the power went back on about 3 seconds later and so did not seriously affect our results. In the future, we think this lab can be improved by having one lab partner measuring the data while the other partner records the data to make sure that the information is recorded right away. This investigation is important because it follows scientific concept of __________ and supports that claim. A future question to investigate might be, how does (MV2) affect the (RV)?