Title, Abstract, References, Appendices
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.
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.
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.
- 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
If a reader is intrigued by the title of a published paper, the next thing they will read is the abstract. An abstract is a brief summary (around 150 words) that highlights the most important details of your lab report. It will include answers to the main questions that the report addressed:
There are two facets to correct referencing. One is the format for citing details in your text. The other is the list of references (which may be termed References, Literature Cited, or another variation) at the end of your lab report. Be sure that every work cited within the text is present in the reference list and vice versa.
You must follow the referencing format required for your course. Nobody can remember every nuanced rule for doing this; simply find the rules and follow them closely. Guidelines are often detailed in the lab manual, but some courses follow the referencing style of a particular journal. If unclear, ask your professor or teaching assistant.
Read more about avoiding plagiarism.