Home  |   A-Z Index  |   Campus Maps  |   Directory  |   MyPellissippi  |   Webmail
Natural and Behavioral Science
Anthropology Class with Jon Bethard
Student with Petri Dish

About The Lab Reports

Written laboratory reports are required for all experiments performed.  Each report will be due at the start of the next scheduled lab period.  Students taking online physics must send each week's report not later than the Saturday of that week  No late report is accepted. 


 Lab Note Book

In addition to the laboratory reports, a lab notebook or manual is required. This bound notebook should be used to keep notes, data and rough calculations pertaining to the lab experiments.  It is also used as a means to organize data, plots, calculations, and tables of results.  It will be graded for the quality of the work done.  Students taking physics online must send a copy of their lab note book to the instructor immediately after the last experiment.


LAB REPORTS:

Detailed written laboratory reports will be required for 10-11 experiments.  The report should be as brief and concise as possible (2-6 pages).  Regular size paper must be used. Papers will be graded primarily on their contents.  All reports must be word-processed.  Online students must email their reports as mentioned above.  The report must consist of the following parts:


Cover Page

In the upper right hand corner of the title page, place course name, section, the date the experiment was performed. Near the center write "Experiment#  ," and the name of the experiment. At the bottom, place the names of group members.  For a typical cover page click here.


Objective: State the objectives of the experiment.  See your lab manual.


Equipment:  List the major items used in the experiment.  Just list items.  Do not explain. See your lab manual.


Theory:  Theory must be in Present Tense.  It is the expression of facts.  It can vary from a couple of lines and a formula to a few pages.  It must be enough to support the experiment.  See your lab manual.


Procedure: A lab report is a record of what was actually done.  Therefore, it should not be an instruction set of what to do, such as that given in the lab manual.  Do not copy the procedure worded in the lab manual.  Past Passive Tense must be used for explaining the procedure.  A typical statement is “ the weight of the steel sphere was measured by using a triple-beam balance.”  All statements under procedure must follow this general style.  It is considered improper to use personal references such as:  Jack and I weighed the block.  It is considered proper to use the impersonal 3rd person passive voice:  The block was measured. The data were taken.  Calculations were made, etc.                    

Be brief and concise, but complete.  The procedure portion of the lab report should provide a reader with a general understanding of the steps taken during the experiment.  As an option, one page of numbered steps is sufficient usually; however, such steps must follow the general style.  

See your lab manual.


Data:   See your lab manual.

  1. Data is the information that is either given or observed.  Observed data usually is the result of some kind of measurement.
  2. Record data in your lab notebook and then in the report.
  3. Present data in a table if at all possible. Show units clearly.
  4. The only calculations allowed in the Data section are averages of data taken. 

Calculations:

  1. Show all calculations for each computation used in the report.  Put the results in a table if possible.
  2. Place any graphs immediately after the calculations.  Accepted graphing techniques are to be used.

IMPORTANT POINTS CONCERNING GRAPHS INCLUDE:

  1. Use a full page and make the graph as large as possible by adjusting the scale and orientation on the page.  Unlike vectors you do not need the same scale for both axes.
  2. Clearly label the axes including the units of the function plotted.           
  3. Indicate data points by a dot surrounded by a small circle.  (Triangles or squares may also be used to discriminate between different data.)               
  4. Use a straight edge to draw all lines.
  5. Indicate the title of the graph.
  6. Include a table of values on the graph.

Comparison of The Results:

The formula used for calculating the %error or %difference must be written first.  Then the necessary %error(s) must be calculated and shown.


Conclusion:

It is a good idea to repeat the objective’s statement to emphasize reason for performing the experiment.  It should be mentioned whether the objective is met or not and if the experimental results are in close agreement with what theory predicts.  Any side conclusion and important observation will be worthy of mentioning under this subtitle.


Discussion:

Based on the results, if the percent error is unreasonably high, the report deserves a discussion on what might have gone wrong.  Sources of error with ample reasonings should be mentioned.


Answers to Questions:

Answer questions in the lab manual if there are any. Repeat the questions’ statements with appropriate answers.