Guidelines for Lab Reports

The lab report is an exercise in critical thinking and scientific writing, as well as usage of the English language. Lab reports must be typed. No handwritten reports will be accepted . When relevant, hand-drawn sketches of the experimental setup are acceptable.

#1 Abstract:

A concise (short paragraph) statement of the objective of the experiment, the results (including errors and accepted values if relevant) and the conclusion.  Should include one or both of the following sentences:
    "We have measured q = (xx +/- yy)x10^z [unit]  in  [excellent, good, fair, poor] agreement of the accepted value v [unit]".
    "Our experimental test of the hypothesis h yields a value of [chisq/degree of freedom],  in agreement with the hypothesis
    at a confidence level of xx %".

#2 Introduction:

Explain the goals of the experiment. What is the scientific reason for doing the experiment?  Include any relevant theoretical background.

#3 Method:

Briefly describe the apparatus and procedure. This should not be a repeat or summary of the lab manual, but rather a reflection of your understanding of what the important components are and how they work. Imagine that you were designing the experiment. 

#4 Calibrations:

Explain what calibrations are necessary.  Discuss how calibrations were done.  Display calibration data in a table.  Describe and include any fits that were done to obtain calibration constants.  Include an estimate of the systematic error, for example from the error on the fit to a slope.

#5 Data:

Briefly describe how the data was taken, including choice of data points.  Present the raw data in a well organized table or tables. Derive and discuss any formulas used in applying calibrations and calculating derived quantities from your data.  Present calibrated and derived data in a table or tables.

#6 Analysis and Results:

    Describe any analysis (calculations of averages, graphs, fits, etc.) done to obtain your final results for parameters measured and/or hypotheses tested (e.g., de Broglie). Discuss in detail your calculations of statistical and systematic errors.  Include a list of systematic errors considered and discuss how each was estimated.

#7 Conclusions:

Compare your results with expected values and/or discuss how well hypotheses were verified. Answer all questions in the lab manual or additional questions asked by the instructor. If necessary, conjecture on additional systematics that you did not have time to investigate. Speculate on the cause of any discrepancies, and suggest further experimentation that might resolve such discrepancies.