Formal Lab Reports
  [Scientific Process] [Sample Notebook Data] [Lab Grading Rubric] [Lab Report Checklist]

You will do different types of lab reports in class.  Some you will just turn in a data sheet and answer some questions and make some graphs for.  These are the quick and easy reports.  For other reports you will have to create a full formal lab report.  Formal labs are the final product of labs in class. The data is taken, the lab is performed, and now it must be presented. Most labs will be handed in typed up, with computer generated graphs in them. On a few occasions they will not be, but for the most part, assume they will be. Below is a list of what should be included in a formal lab writeup. The same rules apply to headers in the lab notebook.

Every Formal lab Report should contain the following:

  • Title Page:  Your title should describe the experiment, and the title page should include your name, your class (and color), your partners and the date the lab was performed on (not the date you turned in your report).
  • Introduction:  Here you should state the purpose of the lab identifying what is being investigated and include any hypothesis you may have made.
  • Background/Theory:  Present and explain the physics principles that relate to what you investigated.  This is the science that you need to know to understand.  Think about trying to explain your lab to your mother and what you would have to tell her so she could understand what you were talking about goes in this section.
  • Procedure/Methods:  A step-by-step description of the method used to perform the experiment. Make sure that it is written with enough detail so that another person could recreate the lab using only your report. You should write the procedure in your own words, not by copying any handouts. You should write your procedure based on what you remember doing during the lab. This section should also include:
    • Equipment/Materials: List the equipment that was used.
    • Diagram(s): Draw the experimental setup that is being used. This should be incorporated into your Procedure.
  • Analysis and Results: A written, numerical and visual analysis of your data. This secion includes your data (just averages are OK), manipulations of your data (including standard deviations) all in table form, visuals (scatter plots, bar graphs, etc) with curve fits and fit equations if applicable and a written description of what your analysis means.
    • Data/Results: List all the data that was collected in neat organized tables. All tables should be labeled, have gridlines displayed for better clarity, and have units clearly displayed. Along with your data you should include any manipulations that were used to help analyze your data.
    • Graphs: any graphs or printouts that were created from the data including curve fit analysis and equations.
    • Calculations: examples of any non-trivial calculations.
  • Conclusion: A short summary of the key results of the lab, and what can be concluded from the data. This should address the question posed in the purpose section, and whether your results agreed or disagreed with the original hypothesis. A discussion of sources of error along with their effect on your results should also be included here.
  • Questions:  Any questions given to you should be typed up and placed at the end of the lab report in their own separate section.
  • Extra Datasheet:  If you were given a separate datasheet to fill out for the lab, you should include it at the end … it is not a replacement for your data section.
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