Short Lab Reports for Organic Chemistry Lab

The short report should be about two pages long.  In addition to including all of the items below in each and every report, use 11 or 12 point type in a normal font with normal (1") margins; number pages in sequential order; separate sections with appropriate sub-headings; and staple all pages together.  Please note that every section has a point value.  Each part of the sections will also be assigned a specific point value that will be customized for each experiment.  Please note:   Failure to include required items is the most common reason students receive low grades on lab reports.

Short Lab Report General Format (CHEM 253L-254L)

Title:  Write a clear, specific, descriptive title.  For example, "Separation by Distillation" is too vague.  Did you really separate all possible compounds in the world by distillation?  Say "Separation of Ethyl Acetate and Butyl Acetate by Distillation."

Abstract: An abstract is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary as "that which presents the substance or general idea in brief form; concise, condensed."  Present a summary of the whole experiment in a few sentences, including important results.  The abstract includes what was done, how it was done, and what the results were.  [10 points]

Introduction:  Write a very brief description of the purpose and goals of the experiment.  Remember you shouldn't start a sentence with a number unless it's part of a written-out chemical name.  Do not worry if you seem to be repeating much of what was said in the abstract.  The purpose of the abstract is to summarize the entire report.  Chemical structures must be produced by ChemDraw, a structure drawing program that is available for your use on the chemistry department computers. [10 points]

Results and Discussion:  Write a short paragraph or two describing the success (or failure) of the procedure, paying attention to recovery and purity.  Compare your data to literature data.  That is, state whether or not your TLC Rf matches the standard, whether your mp is consistent with the literature value, and whether or not your IR spectrum matches the literature spectrum. Describe what happened in your experiment.  Describe the interpretation of the results and their significance.  Explain what the results mean, what conclusions can be drawn, etc.  Your data should be presented in the form of charts, graphs, tables, etc. as appropriate.  Tables must be well-organized, efficient, numbered, and given clear descriptive titles.  [50 points]

Primary Data:  Attach your labeled, assigned primary data to the report. Primary data includes graphs, spread sheets, GC traces, and IR spectra.  Put assignments directly on the GC trace or IR spectra.  Include ALL relevant information.  Be sure your data are fully labeled. [20 points]

References:  Numbered endnotes must appear throughout your report to cite sources.  Complete bibliographic information must be provided for all references in the report.  You must reference anything that you had to look up, even if it was in the lab manual, your textbook, or the Aldrich catalog.  You will be penalized for undocumented sources.  You really should not need to be reminded to reference your sources at this point in your college career.

Writing Quality:  The most important characteristic of scientific writing is clarity.  The remaining 10 points will be distributed between clarity [6] and grammar and mechanics [4].


Page prepared by Elza C. Tiner, from material provided by Dr. Anne Reeve.