For the past four years, I have required my inorganic students to write short 3-page formal lab reports in the form of communication to the Journal of the American Chemical Society. This exercise has relieved some of the stress on my students who are writing reports of other science classes and simplified my grading. Using Jeffrey Kovac's Writing Across the Chemistry Curriculum: An Instructor's Handbook as a starting point, I have developed a rubric to provide qualitative feedback to the students on their reports. I have attached the instructions which I distribute to the class on the first lab day and a copy of the rubric. These communication-style lab reports could be implemented in all levels of chemistry classes.
A student should be able to write a short summary of their laboratory experience and properly structure the contents of the report. A student should be able to write a coherent abstract which summarizes the experiment and properly reference external literature.
It is often helpful to discuss with the class the order in which the sections are written. For example, students often try to write the introduction and/or abstract first since these sections fall at the beginning of the report. My class has been more successful when told to write the experimental methods and results first, followed by the discussion, introduction and finally the abstract. It has also been helpful to remind the students of the question that each section is trying to answer (noted in italics in the file); this helps them know how to order the content of the report.