How to Write the Discussion in a Lab Report
Lab reports have a section called discussion. A lab report is incomplete without this part.
Discussing the results in the later part of the report is an integral part. Although there are no set ways to write a discussion, there are some pointers that should be followed.
Importance of the Discussion Section in Lab Reports
It is not an easy task to complete a lab report. To make it even more challenging, instructions are given on how to write a discussion at the end of the lab report. This part should be written in such a manner that it grips the reader’s attention and enhances his interest in reading other sections of the report. A good discussion section will fulfill the following aspects.
• Highlight the importance of the experiment and highlight its significance in both scientific and social context
• Show the correlation between lab results with existing theories
• Identify any loopholes, if present, in experimental procedure or data analysis
• Point out the complications that might have risen during the lab experiment
Constructing a Discussion.
There are no set rules to write a discussion. However, certain points must be taken care of while constructing this section. These are discussed below.
Format of writing discussion
A typical format consists of six main parts- introduction, hypothesis, experimental results, data analysis, discussion, and reference.
• Introduction to the topic
Briefly introduce the topic that will be discussed in this section.
Mention what is already known about it or its relation with previous research. If any similar experiments have been conducted earlier, mention them briefly. This will explain why you are doing this experiment.
Try to be specific and clear. It should not contain any ambiguous terms or phrases that might confuse the reader.
Mention the hypothesis of your lab experiment. State the expected results of the experiment without giving too much detail about it.
Do not mention any null hypothesis, instead explain why it is not relevant to your study.
• Experimental findings/results
Now comes the part where you report the results of the lab experiment clearly and logically.
Explain what happens when data is collected.
State how you came to know that expected results have been obtained or not.
If the expected results were not obtained, try to explain why by analyzing your experiments and data.
Try to be as brief and concise as possible while reporting the experimental result.
• Data analysis and discussion
Here you need to report your findings clearly and logically. Mention how this experiment is relevant to the hypothesis.
Support your findings with evidence from lab experiments and theory.
If there are any loopholes in the experimental procedure or data analysis, they should be mentioned here. Try not to repeat what you have already reported earlier.
Mention the overall outcome of lab experiments and compare it with what was expected.
State whether the hypothesis has been proved or not and its significance in a scientific and social context.
Don’t forget to mention further research that can be done on this topic.
You must give reference to any books, journals, websites or people whose work you have cited in your report.
Guidelines for Writing a Discussion in a Lab Report
Good reports are written formally. There is a need to be very polite when writing a discussion section. Try avoiding over-usage of personal pronouns such as “I” and “we.” Using phrases like, “It was observed that” “It was found that” or “The results indicate that” is deemed to be appropriate.
When writing a discussion, there are chances of the readers not knowing about the experiments done. To make it easier for them to understand, try avoiding complicated words. An appropriate way is to use simple words and explain what those mean.
Also, incorporate appropriate terms related to the experiment done that explain the scientific concept under investigation well.
The discussion section should point out the flaws of your results and how they can be improved in the future. There would be a need to write on what error was committed and why it occurred.
A reader who reads such a report is more likely to learn from your mistakes if he knows exactly what went wrong.
Write conclusions last
A discussion section should not be written in a way that starts with conclusions. There is no need to jump into the conclusion part of the report. Instead, start by introducing your results and then end it with statements providing an insight into the experiment.
The most important aspect of writing a discussion in a lab report for any topic is to analyze your experiments. The analysis should be done correctly, and there is no other way to do that but to have a clear mind.
Understanding the results.
When writing the discussion section, one needs to understand what they found out through the experiment. Understanding the data leads to clarity of thought which reflects in good writing skills. One must show how much they can trust the raw data using scientific reasoning skills. It is important to make judgments with respect to the evidence presented in the table or graph.
Mentioning limitations of your work.
If there are any limitations regarding supplies, time and equipment used during the experiment, mention them. If there were any constraints or human error which could or could not be overcome while doing experiments, incorporate them in your discussion section.
One must remember that a discussion is an important part of lab report writing. It might lag behind the results but will definitely add value to your report if written correctly.
What not to Include in the Discussion Section of a Lab Report
Do not include personal opinions and subjective thoughts. Try avoiding saying, “I think” or “It seems that.” State conclusions about the data in a clear non-biased way. The clarity of your thought process will reach the readers if you explain everything clearly, without bias which can be achieved through a better understanding of experiment results.
Do not include irrelevant or unnecessary data in your discussion. The reader will have a better understanding if you use appropriate terminologies and words. There is no need to include emotions in the discussion section. It does not add any value to the report.
Include references of any material that was used for the experiment. If the material was borrowed from previous research done by someone, make sure to mention it in your discussion section.
Useful Tips for Writing the Discussion Section of a Lab Report
- Check for punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors.
Lab reports written in English should be free from grammar and punctuation errors. Ensure that the sentence structure is sound and appropriate.
- Use a wide vocabulary range to write your lab report discussion section, but do not use complicated words.
When choosing between simple and complex words, choose the one which would make understanding easier for readers. The topic should be understandable if you write your discussion section in simple words.
- Be descriptive in writing the discussion section of a lab report.
One can use several words to explain a single word, but do not overdo it. Use appropriate examples and diagrams to explain any complex experiments or observations which lead you to present conclusions about the experiment results.
- Include references if required, but make sure they are relevant to the topic.
References are not necessary for every section of the lab report. Only include them if they are required. Make sure all references used are relevant to your experiment and discussion topic.
- Use a formal tone of writing throughout the report.
The tone of writing included in a lab report should be formal. Use appropriate phrases and words to express your thoughts. Mentioning statements like “I think this will help” or “maybe we can go a step further” is not good for the paper. It reflects a lack of clarity and knowledge about the topic.
- And finally, use correct sentence structure while writing the discussion section for any lab report.
Lab reports can be written in different ways but make sure you follow a proper sequence and structure. Use bullets and numbering if it is helpful for your reader.
Lab report writing should be done meticulously and without any errors to ensure the right message reaches your reader. It is essential that you proofread your work before submitting it to avoid last-minute changes required due to language mistakes.
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