05.29.2019: One Chapter of Science – Lab Reports and Evaluating Results

Today’s soundtrack is My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade, an emo rock album that I bought because I got confused and thought that My Chemical Romance was My Bloody Valentine. Oops. It’s still a good album.

This afternoon, I’m reading the third chapter of Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook, in which I’m learning how to write a lab report and evaluate a report written by someone else.

A lab report is used to share scientific knowledge with others. It starts by explaining its purpose, then goes into the details: what concepts and terms should the reader be familiar with? What was the hypothesis? What materials and equipment will others need to replicate the findings of the experiment? What is the experiment’s procedure? What data did you collect? And finally, end with a summary of your findings.

When evaluating someone else’s lab report, we must employ critical thinking. Determine whether the results are accurate, whether there is some bias present, whether the experiment could be replicated with the same results, whether the data collected was both both precise and accurate (consistent and correct), and whether information that wasn’t recorded precisely was estimated or rounded – and did the scientist make the correct choice?


  1. Precision is getting exact values; accuracy is getting correct values
  2. A hypothesis in a lab report tells us what the expected outcome was
  3. A procedure in a lab report tells us how the experiment was performed, and tells us how to replicate the experiment
  4. In the conclusion of a lab report, we should include whether our hypothesis was correct, any problems or findings, and planned application and next steps
  5. We might be critical of scientific findings that come from a biased source, that rely on estimates only, or that have unverifiable results
  6. A situation that might require estimation or rounding could include one where exact measurement isn’t possible, or if we are dealing with irrational numbers.
  7. “Bias” is a lack of impartiality due to a conflict of interest.

That’s it for today! Next time, I’ll be learning about the SI system.

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