How to write a lab report abstract
Writing academic papers is part of learning. However, writing tends to scare most individuals, be they students or not. But, you cannot survive school life without writing skills.
The first step in acquiring writing skills is learning the basics. After that, you need to practice to perfect the skill.
Writing begins as early as kindergarten where we learn the basics of reading and writing. In elementary school, we learn the different kinds of writing, which include a lab report.
A lab report, like any other academic paper, requires an abstract. However, due to its complexity, an abstract is not required for lab reports in lower levels of learning such as elementary school.
An abstract to an academic paper, not just a lab report, is important as it is usually the first thing teachers and instructors read. So, you have to learn how to write a good abstract.
The following is a guide on how to write a lab report abstract.
What is an abstract?
As mentioned earlier, academic papers require an abstract. The focus of this article is a lab report abstract. Therefore, let us first look at the outline of a lab report.
- The title of the abstract
- Materials and Methods
- Inference or conclusion
Simply put, an abstract is a summary of your paper. A lab report abstract should mention the following:
- The aim of the experiment
- The procedure used to perform the experiment
- The findings
- The conclusion
The Abstract is the first section in your lab report. However, it is advisable to write it last. The idea is to write it when you have completely understood the lab report. Remember, since the abstract is the introduction to your report, it will influence someone’s interest in reading your paper.
Types of abstracts
There are two types of lab reports:
- Informational abstracts
- Descriptive abstracts
The kind of paper you are writing dictates the type of abstract you write. Sometimes, the lecturer specifies the abstract format he wants. If the lecturer does not specify the format, then you have the freedom to choose between the two types of abstracts.
An informational abstract:
- Provides a summary of all the sections in the lab report. Generally, an informational abstract will have a two-sentence summary of all the sections of a lab report except the appendices, references, and bibliography. Also, the abstract does not include illustrations, images, or graphs.
- Has a length of approximately 10% of the whole report.
In essence, an informational abstract outlines the details of the lab report. Sometimes, the experiment does not go as planned, or you will make a discovery in the process. Such information has to be highlighted in the abstract.
You can use the format below to write an accurate informational abstract.
Purpose: Explain why the experiment is important. Also, state the reasons why anyone should be interested in the experiment.
- Hypothesis: State your hypothesis of the experiment. Explain the problem the experiment solves or is intended to solve.
- Materials and Methods: explain the steps or procedure used to conduct the experiment.
- Outcome: Briefly state the results of the test or experiment. Indicate whether the findings support the hypothesis. Also, highlight whether or not the findings were as expected.
- Conclusion: Summarize your findings and explain their significance. Explain your findings’ contribution to the advancement of knowledge or their contribution to society.
A descriptive abstract is brief compared to an informational abstract. It is a very brief summary of the lab report. Still, in those few words, it should give the reader an idea of what the lab report entails.
A descriptive abstract:
- Has a maximum of 100 words (one paragraph)
- States the aim of the experiment and the procedure used to conduct the experiment.
Because it is brief, a descriptive abstract does not discuss the outcome, the findings, and the conclusion of the experiment.
Tips for writing a good lab report abstract
The following are some useful tips when writing a lab report abstract.
- Consider the length
If the instructor or lecturer does not specify the length and format, it is advisable to write a short abstract. Write an abstract of about 200 words or a maximum of two paragraphs.
However, when writing an informational abstract, the length of the lab report dictates the length of the abstract. Sometimes, it can go up to two pages.
- Write the abstract last
The abstract comes just after the title. However, it should be written last.
Remember, the abstract is a summary of the lab report. By the time you are done writing the rest of the report, you have a very clear idea of what it is all about.
- Third person point of view
A lab report abstract should be written in the third person point of view. Do not use words such as ‘I’, ‘We’, or ‘Us’. Instead, use ‘it’, ‘this’, and ‘that’.
- Do not include information, not in the lab report
As mentioned earlier, the abstract is the last section of the lab report to write. As such it is possible to remember a new piece of information when writing it. However, remember that an abstract is a summary of the report. Therefore, do not include any information that is not in the lab report no matter how essential it is.
- Proof your abstract
The abstract is a brief section of the lab report. And, it comes last. For these two reasons, students tend to rush over it, which is wrong.
Again, remember the abstract is the first section of the report. Therefore it needs to interest a reader. So, before submitting the report, ensure that the abstract does not have grammatical errors, it has flow, and it makes sense.
- Consider keywords
In today’s online world, when doing any kind of writing, it is important to consider keywords. In your abstract, consider the search phrase one would use to find your work. Add these phrases where you deem them relevant, not only in your abstract but also in other sections of the lab report. These phrases allow people to easily find your work online. You never know if your work will get published online.
A lab report is a paper you will have to write more than once in your school life. Therefore, as a student, it is important that you learn the art of writing a good lab report abstract. The guide provided in this article will help you learn how to write a good abstract for your next lab report.