Zool 141/142l guide to writing a biology lab report

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In writing the lab report, follow the outline below, making sure to write reports in a concise, yet complete and clear manner.

General guideline for writing:

        1. Think about the assignment and the purpose

        2. Prepare an outline

        3. Write the rough draft

        4. Know how to use your source materials and cite them

        5. Have others read and critique the paper

        6. Revise and proofread

Important notes:

  • Be sure to use the third person, past tense, passive voice, and proper grammar,

  • Don't use acronyms until you have first named the substance or technique and cite its acronym, e.g., University of Hawaii (UH).

  • Species and genus is always italicized or underlined, e.g. Fungia scutaria.

Writing the Report

  • Identify the experiment, e.g., Mammalian Dive Reflex

  • Provide the lab number

  • ZOOL 141L/ZOOL 142L and semester (Fall 2018)

  • Provide your name

Introduction (Purpose and Background)


  • Accurately describe the purpose of the study. It is OK to begin with “The purpose of this study is to….”


  • Briefly summarize relevant background information leading to a specific statement about the problem being investigated.

  • Do not repeat what is in the lab manual, but connect this experiment to anatomy and physiology in general. This is where you include previous research (be sure to cite the references!) to link the experiment to the big picture of how the body functions (or fails to function properly)


A hypothesis is an educated guess phrased in the form of a statement. The experiment you conduct is used to validate or refute your hypothesis. Remember that you can never prove your hypothesis, you can find evidence to support or deny it. List all hypotheses. See the following example below.

H1. A subject who holds their breath will have a lower BP and heart rate than when the same subject does not hold their breath.


  • Briefly describe your methods, i.e., what you did and how you did it, as if someone who has never done this before could follow your instructions and get similar results. Do not write it as a recipe in a cookbook or as bulleted points.


  • Provide any tables, figures and calculations in this section.

  • Describe what the results are, but do not analyze them here.

See Figure 1 below for an example of a graph

Figure 1. Average heart rate vs. the dose of caffeine administered.

Heart Rate (beats/minute)


None 0.5 1.0 1.5

Dose of caffeine (mg/ml)


  • Based on your results draw a conclusion.

  • how did your results relate to the goals of the study stated in the introduction section

  • describe any pitfalls or improvements you would make

  • Describe need for further investigation

Cite Literate

Cite your references within your text and provide references at the end of your document. Cite using the following examples:

Quoting information:

If you quote, use proper citation, e.g., Colman (2015) stated that “Volcanic emissions have an impact on human health …” (p. 63).

In addition, a paper should contain no more than 10% quotes.
Citing information within an essay:

Antidiuretic hormone is produced in the posterior pituitary. Low secretions may indicate diabetes insipidus (Smith, 2015).


Jenkins, C. (2015). Diabetes Insipidus. Journal of American Medical Association, 33(2), 22-25.


Price, P. (2014). Endocrinology. NY: Saunder’s Publishing Co.

Internet: try to avoid using because they tend to be unreliable, but if you do use the internet, try to get as much information about the site as possible. For example,

Mitchel, R. (2012). Endocrine disorders. University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI. Available URL at: http://www.endocrinedisorders.hawaii.edu.

When quoting from an internet site that does not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number. (Myers, 2000, ¶ 5)
Class Lecture or Notes:

Smith, M. (2015). Introduction to Biology (personal communication). Honolulu, HI: Windward Community College.


5. Have others read and critique the paper:

Take advantage of the Learning Center on campus. Make an appointment and have them critique your paper or ask a friend to look it over.

6. Revise and proofread:

Be sure to reread your paper before handing it in. Also, be sure to hand it in on time to avoid any penalties for tardiness.

Evaluation and Grading

The following criteria will be used for evaluation and grading of your essay

1) The introduction clearly identifies the topic.

2) You demonstrate an understanding of the concepts involved with your study.

3) The organization of the report is logical and easy to follow.

4) You've addressed the main content items requested for the report.

5) Data (tables, figures, charts and graphs) follow protocol.

6) Your conclusions are logical and well-supported.

7) Your grammar and spelling are correct.

8) Proper referencing

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