How to Write Sources of Error in a Lab Report

by Sharika Sanku

The components of a lab report are important to any scientific explanation of an experiment. Sources of error are vital to understanding the benefits and flaws of procedures during your experience.

Review steps of experiment. Reread procedures outlined in manuals from before the experiment and your own reflective write up of the experimental steps. Recall the mechanisms you used and any problems that may have come up. This may include measurements in weighing and alterations of steps as necessary.

Mark down changes from procedure. Changes can be things you personally did differently, or modifications your instructor or lab manual dictates to the original form of the experiment. Any mistakes you may have made during the experiment, however little they are, should also be noted. These divergences are all potential sources of error that can lead your result to be different from the desired specifications.

Cogently explain potential errors. Go through your list of marked down divergences and explain how each could have produced a slightly variegated result. Almost every mistake, transformation and step can have a different effect on procedures. Nothing is entirely and perfectly reproduced in a trial. Be sure to state the required procedure, and elucidate how your experiment was slightly different. Then dictate how this change could have produced error. Tasks as simple as transferring a solution or measuring solvent can produce error on a minute level. Be sure to properly assess each step you have taken and write an elaborate explanation of how things can be different.

Summarize sources. After explaining the means your divergence from procedures or slight mistake may have created error, be sure to clearly state the sources of error at the end of your lab report. This is important to the report on a whole and can provide a much easier view of your scientific process.

Things You Will Need

  • Description of procedures
  • List of precise materials necessary
  • Internet or manual about experiment


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