The laboratory report is a permanent record of your work in the lab. Of first importance is the requirement that the write-up be an honest record. Failures,as well as successes, should be faithfully recorded.
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I. GENERAL ORGANIZATION:
TITLE PAGE – The general layout MUST look EXACTLY like the following example:
Complete Title of Lab
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II. WRITING UP THE EXPERIMENT:
All formal labs are expected to be TYPED and written in complete sentences using concise English, appropriate grammar and punctuation. All headings are to be underlined. The order of your lab report is as follows:
TITLE OF THE EXPERIMENT
State the problem briefly in your own words in one to two sentences.
HYPOTHESIS (not always necessary)
If __________________, then _________________.
The hypothesis is a one-line sentence where you discuss how you’ll solve the problem at hand. The statement after “if” is the independent variable. The independent variable is whatever you’ll do to solve the problem. The statement after “then” is the dependent variable, because what happens will depend on what you did in the first place. Generally, the dependent variable will be the problem that you mentioned in the purpose.
List all materials that you will use in this lab, including those not listed on your instruction sheet.
List step by step, in your own words what you will do in this lab using the passive voice.
Never copy directly from the manual, use your own words to shorten the directions.
It should be detailed enough that another person could do the experiment.
Only include what is required to perform the lab in the procedure.
OBSERVATIONS / RESULTS
Draw any necessary data/observation tables to put your results in.
Label everything clearly and neatly.
Do not take data on a loose sheet of paper.
Only write down WHAT IS OBSERVED, do not infer what happened; that is to be written in the discussions.
“Hydrogen gas was produced when solid zinc was added to hydrochloric acid, which was determined using a glowing splint.”
should read “When solid zinc was placed into the hydrochloric acid, bubbles formed at contact in the solution and a gas was released. A glowing splint was placed into the test tube and a loud “popping” sound was heard.
Record every instrument reading/ all observations, both quantitative and qualitative.
All data must be recorded in ink. Points are deducted for whiteout or pencil.
This is where you explain the meaning of your results. If you need to make a graph or a chart, use the date you took in the results section to make the proper charts here.
If you need to explain why something happened, you need to write it here.
If there are discussion question, write out the questions and state the answer beneath.
If calculations are required, they belong here. Full marks will only be rewarded if ALL calculations are shown with appropriate units.
Explain your data. Describe what it means and what it illustrates. Identify and describe any relevant patterns within the data. .
If the purpose/hypothesis was not achieved, an explanation of what you think went wrong is required. These should be specific suggestion.
Identify and critique procedural mistakes that could have affected the data. If the results do not make sense, examine your methods and materials for sources of experimental error, and describe how the error affected the results. The errors you mention should be errors that you can do something about, not mystical errors that probably didn’t happen.
Science does not take place on the pages of textbooks or learned journals, but it is recorded there. The quality of any work is only as good as the report that remembers it when the test-tubes have long been washed up.