Writer's WebComparing a Biology and a Chemistry Lab Report

Many students find it difficult to transition between Chemistry and Biology lab reports because the expectations for each are very different. Biology lab reports tend to be noticeably longer than Chemistry lab reports and often include more details about the experiment overall and outside research conducted in the same field. The main focus of any Chemistry lab report should be to remain as concise as possible. Since Biology tends to be more qualitative and Chemistry more quantitative, Biology requires the addition of specific descriptions of data while Chemistry relies mainly upon values obtained through experimentation and the manipulation of data.

The chart below highlights a few key differences between writing for both sciences:

  Biology Chemistry
Title Interesting and Engaging Strictly Informative
Abstract v. Introduction Begins with an introduction- a long narrative that introduces background information on the subject of the experiment Begins with an abstract- a brief and concise summation of the experiment, focusing on its purposes and goals
Experimental Section Very detailed explanation of the methods of the experiment with no mention of the results Concise explanation of the methods with an inclusion of the results at the end
Results and Discussion

Separate sections

The results section must have a transition from the experimental section. It includes figures and tables within the section.

The discussion section is again an analysis of the data, how the experiment could have been improved, and future work. It also references related primary literature.

Included together in the same section. Normally there are no figures or tables included unless otherwise instructed by your professor.

No primary literature is referenced.

Conclusion None Final section of the lab report

Other Examples

Here is another example from an upper-level Chemistry course- Chem 317 Inorganic Chemistry.

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