How to Write a Psychology Lab Report

A Guide to the Specific Sections and What Each Should Include

Student writing a lab report
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A psychology lab report is a paper that describes an experiment organized and written according to the same format used in professional journal articles. These are the essentials elements of a psychology lab report and what each should include. 

Title Page

This will be the first page of your lab report. It should include important information such as the name of your paper, your name, and your academic affiliation.

Abstract

Page two of your lab report will be an abstract—a brief description of what you set out to find in your research, how you went about it, and a general statement describing your findings. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide, for most lab reports, the abstract should be between 150 and 200 words. However, the specific word count and format of an abstract could vary depending on your instructor or the academic journal you plan to publish in.

Introduction

Your paper should begin with an introduction that describes previous findings regarding your topic of interest, explains the goals of your current research, and describes your hypothesis—what you expect to discover as a result of your research. In order to provide a thorough and sufficient overview of past research, your introduction will likely be several pages long. Be sure to cite all sources using proper APA style.

Method

The next section of your lab report will be the method section. In this portion of your report, you will describe the procedures you used in your research. You'll include specific information such as the number of participants in your study, the background of each individual, your independent and dependent variables, and the type of experimental design you used.

Results

In the results section of your lab report, you'll describe the statistical data you gathered from your research. This section will likely be quite short; you don't need to include any interpretation of your results. Use tables and figures to display statistical data and results. 

Discussion

Next, your lab report should include a discussion section. Here you'll interpret the results of your experiment and state whether your findings supported your hypothesis. You also should offer possible explanations for your findings and what they might mean in terms of future research on the topic.

References

After your discussion section, your lab report should include a list of the references you used in your experiment and lab report. Remember, all references cited in text must be listed in the references section and vice versa. All references should be in APA format.

Tables and Figures

Any tables or figures used to display your results should be included in this final section of your lab report. For more detailed descriptions and examples of tables and figures, consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition).

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