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Writing Lab Reports: Title

The title is more important than you think.

The title is arguably the most important component of a piece of scientific writing as it is the first, and often the only, thing someone will read. When searching for journal articles, researchers filter through papers based on the titles. It is therefore essential to have an informative title that captures all essential aspects of the research. To complicate matters, the title must be concise – around 12-15 words or fewer.

Details

Titles should include the following information (if relevant to the research):

Topic: Always an essential component – what variables were you investigating? Be specific. If you were measuring plants, include what you measured (e.g., height, growth rate, diversity, etc.). If you were researching effects of chemicals, state which chemicals.


Organism: Include both the common and scientific names. Scientific names are written in as Genus species – the first word is capitalized and both are either italicized or underlined


Organism attributes: You may want to include more than just the name. Consider if age, sex, or any other attributes are relevant.

Location: If you conducted your study in the field, or used field samples in the lab, you should include the location (e.g., Peterborough, Ontario; Trent University Nature Areas, etc.). If the location did not influence the results of your study, you need not include it.


Time of year: This may be relevant to field studies (e.g., if studying bird migration, was it in spring or fall?)

A good title should…
• Be informative
• Be concise (12-15 words)
• Begin with important keywords

A good title should NOT…
• Use the title from the lab manual (e.g., Lab #1: Photosynthesis)
• Be lengthy – do not write a full sentence or small paragraph
• Use abbreviations

Bact to Writing Lab Reports