Tips for Lab Papers

Here is our list of 10 suggestions for lab papers that should help you avoid some common mistakes. (Some of these are pretty obvious.)

1. Follow the guidelines outlined on the course website! If at bare minimum, you clearly, thoroughly, and concisely address all the points listed in the outline, you should get close to a perfect score.
2. In the Introduction, clearly state what your hypothesis and predictions are. Don't just describe previous research and then assume the reader (i.e., the Professor or TA) will implicitly make the leap to what you're testing in the CogLab experiment.
3. Your hypothesis is essentially the one that CogLab outlines for you. No need to come up with some original proposal.
4. A well written concise report will generally get a higher score than an overly wordy or rambling report. In particular, stick to the points that are relevant to the current experiment. Don't bring in topics from lecture or reading that have nothing to do with the CogLab study you're conducting.
5. You can choose to report on the group data instead of or in addition to reporting your own results. This is a good approach especially if your individual results did not match the expected ones. Also, when reporting statistics, for purposes of these lab reports anyway, two decimal places are fine. At the very least, be consistent across conditions.
6. Make sure to attach a printout of the CogLab-generated results or graph with your report. This is our proof that you completed the experiment.
7. What you write about in the Discussion/Conclusion section should correspond to the results you report in the Results section.
8. In the Discussion/Conclusions section, make sure to address the theoretical implications of the study/your finding. In other words, don't just conclude by saying "the hypothesis was supported." Link your findings back to what you discussed in the Introduction. This is the place to explore in a more general sense, the implications of your findings (this study).
9. Label each of the four main sections.
10. Spell-check and proofread!!!

If you're interested in learning more about scientific writing, read the following article.