Lab report: summary

time to complete: 15 minutes

We are going to start with the summary. Remember this section can also be called abstract or executive summary. 

The summary of a lab report should include:

  • the background context
  • the aim of the experiment
  • the procedures followed and equipment used
  • the results that were obtained
  • any observations made
  • the findings drawn and the impact those findings have towards fulfilling the original aim

Adapted from Beagles et al. (no date)

Task 1: Read the summary of a lab report and identify which of these elements it includes.

Determination of the Spring Constant and Natural Frequency of Bungee Cord for Varying Applied Load 

Ben G. Cord 

12th September 2010 

 

Summary

An experiment was carried out to measure the spring constant of a piece of bungee cord for a range of applied loads. The results were used to calculate the variation in natural frequency. The natural frequency for a particular load was measured experimentally and compared with the predicted natural frequency, calculated from the spring constant. The two values were found to be in good agreement.

Adapted from Beagles et al. (no date)

Now, do the task to check if you were right.

 

the background context

n/a

the aim of the experiment

to measure the spring constant of a piece of bungee cord for a range of applied loads

the procedures followed

As indicated in the order and verbs:

  1. the natural frequency for a particular load was measured experimentally
  2. predicted natural frequency was calculated from the spring constant
  3. natural frequency and predicted natural frequency were compared

equipment used

a piece of bungee cord, applied loads

the obtained results

natural frequency for a particular load; predicted natural frequency

any observations made

The two values were found to be in good agreement.

the impact those findings have towards fulfilling the original aim

n/a

Task 2: Look at the summary again and identify the verb forms. What tense are they in? Are they in the active or passive voice?

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Summary

An experiment was carried out to measure the spring constant of a piece of bungee cord for a range of applied loads. The results were used to calculate the variation in natural frequency. The natural frequency for a particular load was measured experimentally and compared with the predicted natural frequency, calculated from the spring constant. The two values were found to be in good agreement.

Summary

An experiment was carried out to measure the spring constant of a piece of bungee cord for a range of applied loads. The results were used to calculate the variation in natural frequency. The natural frequency for a particular load was measured experimentally and (was) compared with the predicted natural frequency, (which was) calculated from the spring constant. The two values were found to be in good agreement.

 

As you can see, this section is written using the simple past and the passive voice. As it is a summary, tenses reflect those used in the report’s original sections. The passive voice is used because the focus is on what happened (the action), not who did it (the agent).

Advice

Although the Summary is the first section in your lab report, you will not be able to write it until you have finished your report!