Lab Report Guidelines

Lab Report Guidelines

Your lab report should begin with a title page that includes your name, title, and the date.  You should also include any collaborators on the title page.

As a formal piece of writing, grammar counts.  Your paragraphs should be well organized and well connected.  Spelling also counts.

Abstract (10%): Three to four sentence summary of key ideas, results, and conclusions.  An additional sentence should provide the reason for your investigation.  You should consider this section an advertisement encouraging peers to read your paper.  Although this is the first section of your report, it is the LAST thing you should write.

Introduction (30%):  Theoretical background information necessary to understand the scientific principle(s) being investigated.  A reader unfamiliar with the subject should be able to understand your lab after reading the introduction.  It is strongly advised that you use your textbook, the library, the web, or any other reputable resource for reference material.  One to three pages.  All equations should be introduced and defined, and important equations will benefit from a derivation.

Procedure (10%):   A brief description of all critical methods and tools utilized.  DO NOT simply copy the instructions from the lab.  Do not use a list of materials, but use paragraphs and written language. Use a sketch or photograph of the experiment.  The picture may be included in the appendix but it should be referred to from here.

Results & Analysis (30%):  This should be a discussion of your results and how they relate to the scientific principle being investigated.  This section should connect the ideas of the introduction, procedure, and results.  Before writing this part of your report, carefully review what was done, why it was done, and what you learned from the experiment.  This is where you should analyze your relevant data and determine whether it proves or refutes the principle under investigation.  Account for the source of any errors encountered during the lab.  This should include differences between your values and known literature values (or theoretical predictions). All tables and graphs should be explained here.  How the elements of a tables were obtained or calculated should be explained.  How a graph is generated should be explained.  The significance of the slope or equation of a graph should be explained, often with percent error calculations.

Conclusion (10%):  One to four sentence description of what has been proven or demonstrated by your results.  Ideas for further investigation or personal scientific reflections should be found here.

Appendices (10%): References, calculations, graphs, tables, & diagrams when applicable should be found here.  References should follow the Chicago styleformat. If you didn’t include references you should have!  Calculations should include one example of each different calculation performed and should be hand written or done in Equation Editor.  Graphs, tables, and diagrams should be clearly labeled.  Graphs and tables must be done on a computer.