Writing lab reports


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Writing lab reports

  1. 1. PsquiresChemistry 2013
  2. 2. Steps to writing a lab report• Title• Materials Used• Procedure• Data/Calculations/Charts/Graphs• Conclusion
  3. 3. TitleThe title should be less than ten words. A good title is straightforward and useskeywords that researchers in a particular field will recognize.Examples: pH Lab, Density of Solids, Static Electricity, etc.Very important to have a title because you will be turning in several labs at thesame time.
  4. 4. MaterialsAs the name implies, the materials used in the experiments should be reportedin this section. When procedures from a lab book or another report are followedexactly, you still must write what you used. Some items may change orsubstituted from the original paper/book.This can usually be done in a short paragraph, possibly along with a drawing ofthe experimental apparatus. You may also use bullets for this sectionGenerally, this section attempts to answer the following questions:What materials were used?
  5. 5. ProcedureMethods used in the experiments should be reported in this section.The difficulty in writing this section is to provide enough detail for the reader tounderstand the experiment without overwhelming him or her. Specific data orresults should not be included in this section.However, it is still necessary to describe special pieces of equipment and thegeneral theory of the assays used.This can usually be done in a short paragraph, possibly along with a drawing ofthe experimental apparatus. Bullets may be used in this section also.
  6. 6. Data, Calculations,Charts and GraphsThe results section should summarize the data from the experiments. The datashould be organized into tables, figures, graphs, photographs, and so on. Butdata included in a table should not be duplicated in a figure or graph.Not all labs will have graphs or charts….all labs will have data or calculations.All figures and tables should have descriptive titles and should include a legendexplaining any symbols, abbreviations, or special methods used. Figures andtables should be numbered separately.Figures and tables should be self-explanatory; that is, the reader should be ableto understand them without referring to the text. All columns and rows in tablesand axes in figures should be labeled.
  7. 7. ConclusionThis section should not just be a restatement of the results but shouldemphasize interpretation of the data, relating them to existing theory andknowledge. Speculation is appropriate, if it is so identified.The conclusion is the most important part of the lab write-up because it lets meknow that you understood the lab.Conclusion should include:•What we did•Why we did the lab•What you learned•What errors were made or what you could have done better
  8. 8. Lab write-up example Volume of a solid1. Before we start, try to define volume in your own words: (Remember, you can always change your definition later.)2. Now, figure out a way to measure the volume of a lump of clay. Describe how you will do this below.Volume of the lump of clay:3. Now that you’ve recorded the volume of the lump of clay, try this: change the shape of the clay. Roll it into a perfect ball, make it into a rod, poke a hole through it, shape it into a face; use your imagination!Just be sure to use the whole lump of clay.Sketch it below:4. Before you measure the volume of this new shape, hypothesize as to whether or not the volume of the clay will change. Will it increase, decrease, or stay the same? Why?Volume of the new clay shape:5. Did your results match your prediction (above)? Try and explain why or why not.6. Because we just did the following experiment, we can sharpen our definition of volume. Take into account whether the volume changed once you reshaped it, and redefine the word volume below.7. Does everything have a definite (constant) volume? If so, why? If not, name something that can have its volume changed.
  9. 9. Lab write-up exampleTitle: Volume of a solidMaterials: Clay, meter stick or ruler, etcProcedure:•Take a piece of clay and make a cube out of it•Find its volume using a meter stick•Record your results and plug them into a mathematical formula (volume = s 3)•Change the shape of the clay to a cylinder•Find its volume using a meter stick•Record your results and plug them into a mathematical formula ( )
  10. 10. Lab write-up example
  11. 11. Lab write-up exampleConclusion:What we didWe took a piece of clay and made it a shape so that we could calculate its volume. Aftertaking a measurements with a meter stick we recorded the data and found that the cube wasx. We then changed the shape of the clay and recalculated the volume.Why we did the labWe did this lab to practice calculating volume. We used various techniques learned in theclassroom and math formulas to find that the volume of a solid does not change just becausewe change the shape. Solids do have definite shape and volume.What you learnedI learned that just because you reshape a solid you do not change its volume. I learned thatwe can take everyday objects to prove theories. I also learned that I remembered more fromGeometry than I previously thought.What errors were made or what you could have done betterI could have measured more precisely or with smaller units than centimeters. I could have readthe meter stick to a larger decimal. I could have used other shapes that would have beeneasier to take reading of and calculate. I could have made sure that I calculated correctly.