Lab Reports for Fundamentals of Chemistry

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.   Attach figures and graphs as appropriate.  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.  The point value associated with each of the larger sections will not change.  Please note:  Failure to include required items is the most common reason students receive low grades on lab reports.

Lab Report General Format (CHEM 105L-106L)

Title. Write a clear, specific, descriptive title.

Abstract. [10 points]  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.

Example of an abstract appropriate for the carotenoid experiment:

Carotenoids were isolated from pureed carrots [what was done] by extraction with ether and were purified using silica gel chromatography [how it was done].  Using visible spectroscopy [how it was done], it was determined that the major carotenoid in carrots was b-carotene [what the results were].  Carrots contained XX% by weight   b-carotene.  Spinach and sweet potato also contained  b-carotene, while tomato contained mostly lycopene [what the results were].

Procedure. [5 points]  If you followed the procedure in the lab manual or handout exactly, reference it in a single sentence (e.g. "The procedure described on pp.__ of the lab manual was followed."). If you deviated from the procedure, describe what you did.  If you had to design a procedure, describe it in sufficient detail so that it could be repeated from your report.

Results. [50 points] Describe what happened in your experiment.  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.  All calculations must be shown in this secction.  Whenever a series of similar calculations is required, a sample calculation is sufficient.  You must also write text that describes your results and points out salient information.  If you had to make a graph for any reason in your experiment, you must include a copy of the graph with your report.  Axes must be labeled; the graph must have a clear, descriptive title; and any linear regression analysis must be printed on the graph with an appropriate number of significant features.  However, do not interpret the results here.  Interpret in the discussion section.

Discussion [20 points] Describe the interpretation of the results and their significance.  Explain what the results mean, what conclusions can be drawn, etc.  Compare experimental to literature values where appropriate.  Conclusions should be supported by direct reference to results.   If your results are inconclusive and conclusions cannot be drawn, state this.   Also include a discussion of sources of error in the laboratory experiment.

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 handout or your textbook.  You will be penalized for undocumented sources.

Writing Quality.  [15 points]  Points will be deducted from this section if your writing lacks clarity, lacks grammatical correctness, or lacks proper mechanics (spelling, punctuation, etc.).

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