Writing the References Section of a Lab Report

The standard lab report will typically have 8 sections:


1. Title

2. Abstract

3. Introduction

4. Experimental

5. Results

6. Discussion

7. Conclusion

8. References


Throughout your lab report, you may base some of your writing on ideas found in other texts.  This is especially true in the introduction, experimental, and discussion section.  When you use an idea from another text or when you quote directly from another text, you must cite that text.


Example of references used in a Discussion section:




The measured value for the enthalpy of oxidation of Mg is - 450 KJ/mole.  This is somewhat less exothermic than the literature value of – 512 KJ/mol [1].  However, previous studies have shown that the enthalpy of oxidation of a metal is strongly dependent upon the presence of surface impurities like sulfur and nitrogen [2].  Further, the enthalpy of oxidation is sensitive to humidity [3].  It is therefore reasonable to expect that the enthalpy of oxidation measured in an introductory chemistry laboratory on a humid fall day would not be in complete agreement with the literature value for the enthalpy.




[1] NIST Chemistry Webbook.
http://library.owu.edu/science/c360main.html (September 30, 2010).


[2] Smith, Y.; Dracula, K.; Jones, Y.  The dependence of oxidation enthalpy on surface

          impurities. Surf. Sci.,2001, 46, 1462-1469.


[3] Frankenstein, J.S.  The Role of Humidity in Life, 2nd. ed.; ACS: Washington, D.C.,    1997, 173-229.






In a full 8-part Lab Report, the References are a separate section at the very end.  When writing just an Introduction or Discussion, the References should be made at the end.  As a general rule, if you use a source, you should cite it.


Notice: different types of sources (websites, journal articles, books) have different formats for citation.  If you are unsure of which format to use, consult the following reference:  



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