Lab I Report Guidelines
Groups will work together to set up, run, and clean up their experiment, but the lab reports are to be completed individually (accept for the first report). You should not share your report with others. The group only shares the raw data. All figures, tables, equations, and writing must be done by you alone.
The scenario for this report is that you work for “Harrington Heights Laboratory” and your group provides engineering services to other companies. Your customer is interested in finding out what you have learned from the experiments you recently completed.
Your lab report will briefly describe the purpose of the experiment and what was done, summarize and discuss the important experimental results, and provide key conclusions of what was learned from the experiment. The main text of the report should be 1-2 pages in length (single spaced, 12 point font) – not including figures and tables, title page, or appendix. Sample calculations, recommendations for future experiments, and raw data should be included as an appendix, but the appendix is only for my reference and you should not refer to it in the body of your report. The report should be written for someone technically competent, but not familiar with your experiment or the specific theory behind it. Your report should consist of the following parts:
Follow the exact format of the sample title page
TITLE – The title should provide a concise and specific description of what is contained in the report. Don’t use the short (and incredibly general) experiment titles.
PURPOSE Many readers may not know or remember exactly what work you have been assigned to do. You need to directly and concisely state the purpose of your experiment. What were you (the HH Lab Engineer, not the Lab I student) trying to find out?
Length: 1-2 sentences.
PROCEDURE Describes the experimental procedure that you followed with enough detail for someone with the same equipment to repeat the experiment. This is not step by step instructions. Instead, it provides an overall summary of the techniques, conditions, and equipment used in the experiment. You do not need to explain how to operate a burette, bomb calorimeter, pycnometer, or any of the other instruments. This section should be written in past tense
RESULTS and DISCUSSION Report the experimental results in a quantitative, concise, but complete manner. In general, graphs (figures) are the most efficient way of presenting data. Make sure that you introduce each table and figure with text that informs the reader what are the important results in the tables and figures. If a figure or a table is presented, it must be referred to in the text and have a complete caption or title. Figures and tables should be numbered in order and referred to by that number. Refer to figures and tables in the text before you present them. Error bars should be included on figures. Each figure must include an informative caption and each table must be titled. Captions should be placed below figures and table titles placed above tables. Captions should look like this:
Figure 1 Transient PCOs of ethanol monolayers on P-25 and SO42-/TiO2 in 20% O2 at room temperature. The UV lights were turned on at 115 s and off at 1300 s.
In addition to being reported, results must also be interpreted! This includes relating the results to the underlying theory, discussion of all trends in the data, and discussion of precision (how well repeat measurements agree) and accuracy (how well the measured value agrees with a known value). EVERY REPORT NEEDS TO DISCUSS BOTH PRECISION AND ACCURACY!! Comparisons of experimental results to literature data should be included here. The purpose of the discussion section is to let the reader know what you think about your data. This section should provide reasoning that will lead the reader to draw the same conclusions that you came to. Convince the reader of what you are trying to say with this report. Are the trends in the data expected? How reliable are the data you presented in the results? Critically evaluate your results.
In this section you should also provide reasonable explanations as to what you think may have gone wrong during the experiment. Only discuss plausible sources of error (what you think actually went wrong rather than all of the possible things that could have gone wrong). Make sure your proposed sources of error agree with the trends observed in your data. Explain how the error may have occurred and in what way it would influence results. Whenever possible, quantify the impact of errors, even if you have to make some estimates.
Length: Majority of document.
CONCLUSIONS What have you learned from the experiment? This section summarizes what you want the reader to take away from reading your report. If it is important, it should be mentioned here. Conclusions should answer the question posed in the Purpose section. Conclusions are drawn from the experimental results. Do not provide opinion or unjustifiable remarks. Be careful not to restate results and do not introduce new information here. Conclusions should be presented in paragraph form.
Length: 1-2 short paragraphs
REFERENCES – You should have references to literature data, theory, etc. Be sure to include the full citation (year, author, source, title, pages, etc.) Only reliable sources should be used! Wikipedia or random webpages, while highly useful, are not considered reliable references. Use Perry’s Handbook, CRC Handbook, NIST Chemistry Webbook, textbooks, refereed journal articles, or similar sources for your literature data and theoretical equations. References should be numbered by order of presentation. When you need to reference another’s work in your text, add a superscript number. This number will correspond to the number of the reference in the reference section. When in doubt, reference.
The appendix is only for my use in grading your report. Therefore, the body of your report must not refer to any portion of the appendix—your report must ‘stand alone’ with all important information covered in the body of the report. The appendix should include three sections- Sample Calculations, Recommendations, and a copy of your lab notebook.
SAMPLE CALCULATIONS -The sample calculations should contain an example of each type of calculation you performed. List the equation in variable form, then numerical values (with units) plugged into the equation, and then the final answer with correct units and significant figures. Sample calculations can be handwritten or typed, but must be neat and clear.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE EXPERIMENTS (Required for this assignment, but it is not always a part of a report). Give specific comments about ease of use, reliability, and/or limitations of the experimental equipment and procedures. Provide at least one concrete improvement that could realistically be made to improve the experiment.
Length: 1- 2 paragraphs.
COPY OF LAB NOTEBOOK – Also include in the appendix a photocopy from your lab notebook of the pages that correspond to this experiment. See the laboratory notebook handout for details on what information should be included in your notebook entries.

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