Effective Ways to Write a Lab Report
The majority of psychology degree courses require conducting profound research. Surely, before starting the report, it is advisable to analyze human behavior and, obviously, get some date on this account. Students in their final academic year usually face some difficulties finding an appropriate topic for conducting their lab report. They often make things more difficult than they actually are.
Requesting a piece of advice from your supervisor and keeping things simple are vital in terms of writing a good paper. Your originality will not be assessed but do your best to ensure the respect of ethical guidelines. Finally, make sure your paper is written in accordance with APA style.
Ethical Standards in Research Paper
If your research involves any of the following, it is necessary to consider whether to conduct it and/or how to defend the rights of the participants.
- Any discomfort on psychological or physical level.
- Invasion of private lives. If you are conducting the study on private property, such as a restaurant, obtaining the permission is a must.
- Deceit regarding the nature of the research. If you want to conduct the study on public behavior, you should find the volunteers, who are willing to participate. Additionally, they should be informed about the nature of your research. The only option when the information can be withheld is when the study cannot be conducted any other means.
- Research with kids. The research at a school cannot be carried out without the head teacher's consent. It is sometimes required to get the consent of the children's parents too. Making any tests in a lab will definitely entail getting the written consent of the little participants' parents.
- Research with animals. Experiments with non-human animals shouldn't be often attempted, since it is needed to get specific training in order to be able to deal with the animals. Besides, you should make sure their needs are addressed respectively (food, water, protection, proper housing, gentle treatment, etc.) Naturalistic observation is less demanding but still requires thorough examination. There is a likelihood of disturbing the animals while breeding or taking care of young.
Whenever you make any type of investigation, avoid:
- Insulting, irritating, or provoking participants.
- Making participants feel that they could have offended or upset someone.
- Violating the law or convincing others to do it.
- Infringing the DPA (Data Protection Act).
- Copying tests or materials of other researchers without their permission.
- Inventing data.
- Using other papers without crediting it.
- Claiming that other people's wording is yours.
Breach of any ethical guidelines mentioned above might lead to disqualification of the research paper.
Format of Lab Report
As any kind of research paper, a lab report should consist of title page, abstract, introduction followed by main body and conclusion, references, and appendices (if applicable). Using double line spacing in paragraphs, selecting font size 12, and inserting numbers of the pages are the main points to consider when writing a report. The report should be well argued and the ideas should be properly linked, so that there is no disparity between the introduction and the discussion followed.
- Title Page:
It is important to indicate the nature of the study in this page. It should include both the independent variable (IV) and the dependent variable (DV). Ensure the title page is written in the form of a question.
Even though the abstract of your report comes right after the title page, that is, at the beginning, it is typically written at the end.
As the abstract provides a summary of a research report, it should be concise and comprehensive including all the main points of the body paragraphs. Try to be as brief as possible, not using note form though. The main aim of an abstract is to explain the following in a nutshell (about 200 words):
- Begin with a few sentences summarizing the key ideas of the paper.
- Include the aim and rationale for the lab report.
- Give a short description of participants and setting.
- Outline the method (design, questionnaires, experimental treatment, tests or surveys used).
- Give details regarding the major findings, which may contain some statistics used and the levels of importance.
- Sum up the outcome of your findings in one sentence.
- The final sentence describes the contribution of this particular study to the scientific literature. Mentioning implications of paper's findings can be a good way of finishing the abstract.
- The purpose of the introduction paragraph is to lay out the nature of hypothesis. Being explicit regarding the outline of your research is crucial in the introduction.
- Begin by general theory and shortly introduce the topic.
- Narrow down to specific theory and relevant studies.
- Logical progression of ideas ensures the flow of the lab report. It means that the studies outlined in the intro paragraph should logically explain and prove your aims and hypotheses.
- Be brief and selective in terms of including data.
- Remember that introduction is not an essay.
- Don't mention all the details of your research.
- Include critical comment on research, but at the same time, you should verify that your aims stay compatible with literature review.
- Pretend the reader of your report has no idea of what you have investigated and do your best to ensure they would be able to replicate it without any additional resources.
- Use the past tense when writing the research.
- Do not include any justifications or explanations regarding the choice of the method. Your task is to inform what you did.
- Be concise in your piece of writing.
This section of the report usually gives an overview of both the descriptive statistics and the inferential statistics. Do not try to interpret the results, since this is the task to do at the discussion section. Present the results in a clear and concise way. You can use tables, line graphs, bar charts, or pie charts to make the data easier and faster to understand. However, avoid including any type of raw facts or information.
- Plain English should be used throughout your research, especially when describing your findings. Be sure to relate the results of the study to the hypothesis stated in the introduction.
- Make the comparison of the results of your research and background materials. Find the similarities and differences, then discuss them.
- Suggest some practical and constructive ways to have your study improved if appropriate.
- Outline the implications of your findings by saying what they mean in terms of people's behavior in the real world.
- Suggest some ideas for further studies resulting from your own. It shouldn't be an improved version of your research, but rather a study in the same area. This suggestion might be based on a limitation of your report.
- Concluding paragraph should be written in no more than 3-4 sentences. Include a statement of your findings followed by the main points of the discussion section.
In the reference section, it is required to mention all the sources cited and quoted in the report. It must be done in alphabetical order correspondingly. However, it is not a bibliography, where you simply include the books you used. Whenever you refer to a name or date, you should make a reference only to the original source, which might be complicated if you have been using websites. Thus, take time to provide a proper list of references.