How to Write a Hypothesis for a Lab Report: Tips for Successful Writing
How to Write a Hypothesis for a Lab Report
Not sure how to write a hypothesis for a lab report? This article will provide some answers and help you develop a hypothesis that leads to a successful research paper. For starters, what is a hypothesis? It is a statement that asserts a particular event or phenomenon and is the result of another event or phenomenon. The hypothesis is something that can be tested scientifically in order to determine whether it is valid. The fact that it is testable is important here. You perform a test on how two variables interact with each other in the form of an experiment. In particular, you might observe something taking place and make a guess as to what causes it.
As you start thinking about the hypothesis to test, make sure to write the hypothesis statement carefully. You need to include words that demonstrate how you plan to prove it. In other words, you would not want to say, “Drinking four cups of coffee a day might lead to higher rates of hypertension.” Instead, you would write, “If coffee has an effect on blood pressure, then we should expect that people who drink a lot of coffee are at significantly greater risk of developing hypertension.” Note the inclusion of the words “if” and “then” in this statement. Since a hypothesis is asserting a cause and effect, both must be used. Of course, not every if-then statement is a hypothesis. For instance, “If people get a gym membership, then they will lose weight.” This is a basic prediction. When it comes to making a hypothesis, you must discuss how a relationship can be established between the two. For instance, if the odds of losing weight is related to the frequency of purchasing gym memberships. “Then” is proceeded by the prediction of what will happen if the public increases or decreases the frequency of purchasing gym memberships. If you wonder if one thing is caused by or the result of something else, it should be testable.
Every proper hypothesis contains one independent variable and a dependent variable. The independent variable is the one that the researcher controls while the dependent variable is the one that is observed or measured. As a rule, when referring to the dependent variable, it should be underlined whereas the independent variable should be underlined and italicized.
Parts of a Lab or Research Report
Now that you have a better idea about how to develop a hypothesis, let us discuss the parts of a lab or research report:
First, every good paper starts with an appropriate title. It should be concise but informative as to leave no ambiguity about the topic of the report. As you are thinking of the title, you can omit such words as “A Study on...” “A Report on...” and “Observations on...” since the reader can already surmise that they are about to read a study, report, etc.
The abstract is essentially a brief version of the entire lab report. It allows potential readers to understand the purpose, methodology, results and importance of the paper without first having to read all of it. When researchers are looking for published reports and articles as sources for their own work, an abstract can help them quickly determine whether the particular article would be relevant and useful to include in their research. The abstract should be written in the same order as the information in the paper including the introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion. You should obviously wait until you have finished the entire paper before you write the abstract since you would want it to serve as an accurate reflection of the report.
The purpose of the introduction is to introduce an issue or problem as well as some background information that provides the reader with some context and understanding about the report. To achieve this, the introduction should include summary of previous research that is related to the topic in the form of a literature review. The literature review would also confirm the gaps in the research and therefore provide justification for your report. Conclude the introduction with a purpose statement, which states the question that your research intends to address and answer. This is often done in the form of a hypothesis or null hypothesis.
The sources should be reputable. Using scholarly journal databases such as JSTOR is recommended. In addition, you can use lecture notes, readings and information from your class textbook to help you build a good case for your hypothesis. All sources should be properly cited using whatever formatting style your professor or department requires.
- Materials and Methods
When you conduct an experiment and get results, the ability for other researchers to duplicate the experiment and also give credence to the hypothesis is important. This is why you need to provide details about the materials you used along with your methodology. Discuss the experimental design, the tools used, how you collected and analyzed, and the control variables. Since the experiment will have been completed at this stage, you will write this section in past tense. Make sure to write in narrative form using complete sentences. In other words, do not write it as though it were a lab or instruction manual. While using first person is usually not appropriate for academic papers, you are free to use it when describing what you did. You can also use the passive voice if you wish (i.e., “the solution was added to the test tube.”). Also, include any diagrams or pictures that will allow the reader to understand how you did the experiment.
In the results section, write an objective account of what you saw and present the data without interpreting them or deciding what they might mean. You will leave that for the discussion section of the paper. Write everything out in complete sentences based on when you observed the actions or behaviors related to the experiment. Make sure to use charts and graphs so that the reader will be able to understand the information more easily. If you are providing raw data, using a table is the best way to present it. Note that the experiment should be honest and transparent, which means you should also include any results that ran counter to your expectations.
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Now that you have your results, you will either state that the hypothesis can be accepted or rejected and explain the reasons. The point of your lab report is not to merely confirm what you expect, but to report on the actual results. This is why it is perfectly acceptable to reject the hypothesis. Just make sure that the reject can be justified through evidence in the results. In this case, you would also want to explain why the results were not what you had hypothesized. For instance, it might be that you changed some of the methods or you were limited in terms of time and resources and this affected the outcome. If the lab manual includes questions, incorporate the answers seamlessly into the paper as opposed to answering the question by question, as you would do in a homework assignment.
The last part of the paper is the conclusion. You should briefly summarize the purpose of the lab report and what you found. Also, make recommendations for future research based on your results. When describing the experiment, use past tense. When comparing the information to current theory, you will use present tense.
The reference list includes all of the sources that you used in your report and belongs on a separate page at the end of the report. Keep in mind that any information in the lab report that does not come from your original work must be cited. This is because anytime a person creates work that is used for another individual’s research; they should be given proper credit for doing so. Keep in mind that this is not reserved for direct quotes either (although it is not common to use direct quotes in a lab report anyway). Any work that is paraphrased or summarized should also be cited. The expected formatting style (such as APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago/Turabian) is usually provided to you in the professor’s instructions, but when it doubt as them which one to use. This might seem like a minor detail, but it can make a big difference in your grade.
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