Formal Lab Report:
During the term you will be asked to turn in a formal written lab report. Although data is collected and shared with a partner, lab reports are individual, and no part of the report is to be copied from a partner. Each student should leave the lab with their own data; the inability to contact a lab partner for data after they leave the lab is no excuse for a late report. Late reports are not accepted. Below are guidelines that should be followed:
A scientific paper usually contains the following sections:
2. Abstract or Summary
4. Materials and methods
5. Results: Data and Calculations
7. Works Cited (if any)
Contents of each section:
The title should be less than ten words and factual. It should be straightforward and use keywords that other researchers would recognize. For the lab report, a separate page is required for the title page. It should contain the title of the report, course and section number, the date, author’s name and the TA’s or instructor’s name.
Abstract or Summary
The purpose of an abstract is to give the reader a “glance or condensed version” of the entire paper. This way the reader can decide if it is worth his/her time to read the whole paper. It should be a concise (100 to 200 words) summary of the purpose, the data presented and the major conclusions.
The introduction should provide any background information the reader needs to understand the experiment. Definitions should be provided so that the contents of the report make sense. Any chemical reactions should be included to “introduce” the experiment. An introduction should answer questions about the experiment, such as:
Why was the experiment performed?
What is already known about the experiment?
Why was the experiment designed like it was? (ie. How can the equations used be used for this experiment?)
Materials and Methods
A list should be made of all materials used. If solutions were used, the concentrations should be included with the solutions. The methods section should be an accurate stepwise account of what was done during the experiment. Chemists like detailed steps necessary to reproduce the results.
Results: Data and Calculations
The data collected during the experiment should be listed here for quick, organized reference. This section should include, where applicable, any graphs, figures, or tables needed to help summarize the data without discussing the data. Any graphs, figures, or tables placed here need to be clearly labeled for easy referral from the discussion/conclusion section of the report. The calculations section should include ALL calculations. If a lot of calculations were performed, at least one detailed (using numbers from your experiment) sample calculation should be included for each type of calculation performed. They should be clearly marked so the reader knows what the calculation is for.
This section is used to explain/interpret the results of the experiment. To do so, any values obtained during the experiment must be restated here and discussed. This section should explain the logic used in coming to your conclusion of the experiment. It should answer questions as to how and why you came to your conclusions and the logic that allows you to accept or reject your results as valid results. Possible errors should be noted and the affect these errors would have on the results should be pointed out. Suggestions or improvements may also be included here.
This section is used to list all articles or books from which information was used to write the report. If any sources are used, including your lab manual, they must be referenced in this section.
1. The metric system is used for measurements. Abbreviations of units are used without a following period and there is a space used between the number and the unit.
2. Numbers should be written as numerals when they are greater than ten or when they are associated with measurements; for example, 6 mm or 2 g but two explanations of six steps. Spell all numbers beginning a sentence, sentences should not begin with a numeral.
3. Make certain that correct English is used. Proper grammar and correct spelling is to be used. Be sure your paragraphs have introduction and concluding sentences and that paragraphs are divided correctly. A report should not be one long paragraph.
4. Avoid using the first person, I or we, in writing. The report should be kept impersonal, in the third person. Instead of saying, “I measured the solution in a graduated cylinder,” write, “The solution was measured in a graduated cylinder.”
5. Avoid the use of slang and overuse of contractions.
6. It is best to use past tense throughout a paragraph, but be consistent with the tense used. Do not switch between present and past tenses within a paragraph.
7. Although data is shared between partners, a formal lab report should be your own work (individual) with no help or plagiarism between partners, other students, or previous lab reports.
8. Plagiarism is not allowed. Copying work from ANY other source could result in consequences such as a grade of zero for that work or as dire as being placed on probation for academic dishonesty.
9. Lab reports are graded using the following rubric:
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