Documents must be Word 97-2003 (.doc) or Word 2007
The document file name must have the following
lastnameF-labname.doc (or .docx) (The F at the
end of lastname stands for the first initial. You don't all have
different last names.)
Labs are to be emailed prior to the lab session one
week after completing the lab.
All pages must be double spaced
Pages must have margins of 1"
The font must be either Times New Roman or Ariel or Calibri
The font size must be 12 point
Page numbers must be in the upper right hand corner of the page and
start on the title page
Main headings (e.g. Method, Results) should be centered on their own
line and in bold. No extra lines should be used before or after this
Secondary Headings (e.g., participants) should be left justified in
bold. No extra lines should be used before or after this heading
Sections of a Lab Report: Unless otherwise instructed, each lab report
must have the following sections:
Title Page which has the following elements:
Both are centered about 1/3 the way down the page.
The first page number shows up on this page.
begins with the main heading title Introduction
This section gives the background for the study
Method (note that this is singular) This section has the following
subsections (each is a secondary heading).
This section describes those that participated in the experiment
Stimulus (if necessary)
Describes in clear, precise detail the stimulus that was presented
to the participant.
Materials (if necessary)
Describe any non-stimulus, non-equipment
materials used in the experiment
Describe the equipment used in the experiment
Includes both software and hardware
Only include items that are not general purpose and well known -
like a ruler should not be in this section.
Can come before the stimulus section
Describe in a simple direct manner, the method used to collect the
The actual collection of the data is a real part of the method and
should be described. It is vital that what data is collected (the
dependent variable) is absolutely clear to the reader - not just in your
A clear description of the data collected, how it has be manipulated, and
what it means.
It is not sufficient just to put the data out there. This is the
time to interpret the data
Figure is capitalized when it is a figure name as in
Figure 1 as it is a proper noun (a specific thing).
What did you find?
What does it mean?
Interpret the results in light of the introduction.
Guidelines: Here are some general guidelines to help you write a
Forget about how you have written other lab reports. These are not
lab reports but papers.
Think more about how you write papers in other classes. If you
find yourself writing in lab report language, stop and start over.
Your audience is a person who has never been in the lab.
The lab report is an act of communication to someone who has never been
in your lab, not a simple recitation of what you have done.
You might need help with some of the concepts. Waiting till the
last night will not allow you to seek help. Do not put these reports
off so I can give you help. Not understanding a concept is no excuse.
Always give the units for every measure unless instructed otherwise.
You will only not give measures if the measure is a ratio of two numbers
that have the same units so that the units cancel.
Do not use first person pronouns. The reader
knows who you are and it gets very redundant to use it.
Do not use rhetorical questions. It is a cheap
Only use quotations if the words are actually
significant. Usually paraphrase.
Do not begin sentences with numerals.
As in all academic writing make sure you cite all sources and give proper reference.
The point of the introduction is to clearly explain the point of the study
and give the background ideas.
Discuss what is being studied, such as depth, or critical bands
Discuss what is the question, such as if stereopsis can support size
constancy or if critical bands are the same everywhere.
End with your hypothesis, but it must make sense based upon the
information you provide.
You should use sources, but in most cases the text is fine.
The point of the methods is that how an experiment is done determines
how the data may or may not be interpreted.
In science quite literally it is the means justifies the end not the
other way around.
Below are some comments on each section:
Need to indicate those characteristics of the participants that are
important to know and might influence the outcome of the study.
Exactly what will be needed will depend on the study.
Consider how variations in the person could alter the outcome of the
Stimulus (if necessary)
The reader should be able to reproduce the stimulus at their end,
even and especially if they do not have the equipment that you use.
Share with others not in this class and see if they can describe the
stimulus as you experienced it - in all its variations.
Specific measures should be given unless told not to.
Do not describe generally known equipment - like a ruler
However, little research is done with general purpose equipment.
So the equipment and how it works should be described - not all
features but enough to give a general idea
Computers and monitors are not general purpose equipment because
they vary so much from model to model
The maker and model number, when possible, should be given
This should describe the sequences of events performed to collect
Any steps that require intimate knowledge of the software or
equipment - like move this slider - should be described in terms of the
impact - like the stimulus intensity was controlled by the participant.*
The steps to set up the software is not part of the procedure.
You have described the end result above in the stimulus section and
equipment section - that is enough.*
You are describing the psychophysical method here.
The whole point of the method is to collect data. Therefore,
tell me what the data is and how it was collected. To leave this
information out is to waste your time and your readers as you have
ignored the whole point of the experiment - to collect data.*
Any significant changes to the data from the form it is collected should
be told to the reader. They need to trace what has happened to the
If data is in a graph or table, include it directly in this section
If a figure or table are used, the table should be introduced - tell the
reader what is in it - and then tell the reader what it means - there should
be something you are trying to tell the reader in the table or graph - well,
tell the reader*
You are telling a story. The story of your data.
First, tell the reader what you conclude from your data based upon your
hypothesis you have. Do you support or reject your hypothesis?
So, what does this experiment tell us about our sensory systems?
That is the point of the experiment to learn something. So what has
been learned? Think broadly and speculate.