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Writing great Biology and Chemistry lab reports

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Hi,

I was wondering if someone here could tell me how to write a lab report from bio and chem well?

I have several formats (ways of writing the lab reports) to follow, but they're different from each other and I'm not sure which pattern I should follow when writing these. So, I was wondering maybe someone here who has experience in this field could help me out? If there's anyone here who knows someone from their school who got a 6 or 7 on their lab reports, could you please tell me what pattern he/she followed?

Also, could someone explain how does this grading system for lab reports function (e.g. when writing a Design lab report, is it necessary to write the whole lab report or just the Aim, Hypothesis and Variables? Is there more etc.)?

What are the key features to pay attention to for each criteria?

Thanks.

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I could send you my labs, I received a 41/48 on my Chemistry IA and 44/48 on my Physics IA, which were both the top marks in the courses at my school (50 students in each course). Actually, I may just upload them here onto IB Survival so everyone could use them.

Just stick to the criteria, showing a bit extra rather than not enough is always better. Sometimes when we wrote a Design lab, she'd (our teacher) only mark the part that's for Design, but other times she marked all the criteria.

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For our lab reports, our teacher greatly stresses explaining everything that isn't inherently obvious. If there is equipment you are using that isn't clear what it is or isn't a common piece of equipment, explain what it is. Make sure there are no questions left unanswered when writing your reports. In addition, a Hypothesis is not actually necessary. IB does not have a hypothesis in their criteria, so it is really just an extraneous piece of your report.

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Our teacher marks and counts the criteria we do best in! i always happen to do good in my design part. I do have some trouble sometimes with my Conclusion evaluation, hopefully i will be able to see your labs! so maybe i can get help. Because i do not think i will get the 7 in Biology especially because of my Internal Assessment :(

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Well, actually this is what I would like to check with you people. Is this the criteria I should follow when writing my lab reports in order to get either a 6 or a 7 on my Bio/Chem Internal Assessment?

So, just to make sure I understood...It's not important which titles/subtitles (Aim, Hypothesis, Method etc.) you include in your lab report. It's important that you fulfill the requirements/criteria listed in the link above in your lab reports.

Please, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong as I would like to know the right answer to this.

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Yes, you should try to fulfill those criteria. They are mainly about your content.

The thing is you still need an organized, consistent lab report. You said you have different formats. That's perfectly fine. You can call one section the Aim or the Purpose. That doesn't matter as long as you have that information presented in a logical manner. Also, you should use past tense for the majority of your paper. Only in your intro, you can use present tense. Try not to write ornately. Say what you need to say. Don't be wordy. Do you know what information goes in each section [and it is a good idea to organize your report using headings]?

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Have a good title. Not too long, but not vague. It should give insight to your experiment.

For your abstract, say what you wanted to know, what you did to find out [i.e. briefly describe your experiment], what you found out [results], and what you concluded. This is why you want to do the abstract last, even though it's the first thing in your paper [after the title]

Intro: Think to yourself what the problem is. Then write what the reader needs to know in advance before he/she reads your lab report [assume that the reader isn't an idiot but isn't familiar with your topic. another way to think about this is to look at your experiment and ask yourself why it works. are you relying on the properties of water? diffusion? transpiration? gel electrophoresis? (and this is all bio because that's what I'm most used to) then explain these things sufficiently]. Also give an example of a scientist who has performed an experiment somehow relating to yours. You're trying to show that you did your research.

Then state what the problem is.

Then put your hypothesis in an 'If _____, then _____' statement. Then write another sentence explaining why you think what you just said. Something like 'This is due to ____'

Method: What did you use [materials]? Identify the variables and constants. State exactly what you did in a way that someone else could repeat the experiment. Don't use "I did" or "We did." Use passive voice. "___ was done"

Results: Have a table with the data you got. Then write out all of the data. Do not explain the data. I'll say this again. Do not explain the data! Make graphs when needed. Make sure the right variables are on the right axes. Make sure you have titles and units for the tables and graphs. If you have calculations, do them here.

Then explain the data.Break down the data, figure out what it means, and then summarize it for your reader. If your teacher asked you questions/gave you points to discuss, do it here unless your common sense tells you otherwise.

Then make your conclusion. Make sure you show why you're concluding what you're concluding. Go back to your intro and use the principles that you talked about. Also talk about the experiment itself. What went wrong or could have gone wrong? Where could you improve in the future?

Talk about possible errors. Percent error [where applicable]. Where it came from and how it can be avoided. This might overlap with some of your conclusion. You might want to take that part out of the conclusion and put it here. It depends on the lab.

Have a works cited/bibliography page.

**I cite everything in the report in footnotes or parenthetical documentation in addition to the works cited page. Maybe you don't have to. The point is, make sure you're not plagiarizing.

And not all of this stuff applies to every lab. That's just what I've been told to do.

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haha, yes. But I think the reason you should credit what I wrote is because those are my teacher's guidelines. They are what he's seen that IB likes.

Excellent, that's what I need. Thank you. :D

Oh and also, are you sure abstracts should be included in Lab Reports? I thought they should only be included in Extended Essays.

Also you mentioned earlier that I should limit writing personal pronouns to the method section, but in the next longer post, under the Method section, you mentioned that I shouldn't write "I did" and "We did". Instead, use a passive voice...So, should I or should I not use personal pronouns and in which sections do you advise using/not using personal pronouns?

One more thing regarding the data explanation...Could you please explain this a bit more? I'm not sure I understood you where exactly should I explain the data and could you please describe what "explaining the data" means (perhaps using an example)?

Edited by AndyIB

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Ah, my bad. Don't use personal pronouns in the method.

And I just scoured through one of my better reports. I didn't use "I" or "We" at all.

In the Results section, tell what the data is. "Plant three lost 5g. Plant two lost 15g."

When you're analyzing, explain the data/explain the reason for data. Infer why the data is what it is. "Plant two lost more mass than Plant three. Plant two was exposed to sunlight and slight wind for six hours, while Plant three was in a humid environment, so the humidity restricted Plant three from losing mass." Something like that.

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Just a key thing, try to explain your hypothesis in terms of like KMT or something along those lines. It's not required, but it shows the reader that you actual know what should happen and WHY it should happen.

Use past-passive tense when writing your labs ALWAYS. Such as: "The 250mL was placed on the scale. Afterwards, data was recorded and the timer was started."

Don't give crap errors such as: "We took too long on this section, so we ran out of time on the next," "our school equipment isn't precise enough to measure down to the 3rd decimal place thus creating error." They have to be legit errors, such as: "As the beaker was being held and stirred, some body heat from the hand may have gone directly to the temperature of the liquid within the beaker, thus skewing the results.

My two cents. :)

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I could send you my labs, I received a 41/48 on my Chemistry IA and 44/48 on my Physics IA, which were both the top marks in the courses at my school (50 students in each course). Actually, I may just upload them here onto IB Survival so everyone could use them.

Just stick to the criteria, showing a bit extra rather than not enough is always better. Sometimes when we wrote a Design lab, she'd (our teacher) only mark the part that's for Design, but other times she marked all the criteria.

hey,

I am a IB student doing Chem as sl and Phy as HL, and really need your lab reports as an aid to write my reports, but the reports you posted on the site couldnt be opened or downloaded by me so i can give you my e mail address could you please send them to me both your chem an phy investigations.

it will be a really good help to me, my e mail address is [email protected]

regards,

Smit Patel

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