INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING A LABORATORY REPORT
While writing the lab report the following instructions are to be followed:
I. The report should be typewritten with the graphs drawn in ink or by a computer. Use double spacing with 12 fonts. Spelling and usage should be conventionally correct. Use 8‑1/2 x 11-inch paper for the entire report.
II. The following sections are to be included in this order.
A. TITLE PAGE:
· Student's name.
· Course and section Number.
· Number and title of the experiment.
· Date the experiment was performed.
· Date the report is presented.
· Names of group members (See the attached sample page at the end).
This is a stand-alone summary of the report. It should include objective, what was done, results and conclusions. It should be clear, informative, and concise. It should not make any references to the body of the report or to the appendices. An abstract should never be longer than one page. Normally it is written after all other sections of the report have been completed.
The objective of the experiment should be stated separately with the heading OBJECTIVE. State the objective clearly. A few explanatory sentences may be included, if needed.
In this section, explain the purpose of the experiment. It puts the experimental work into perspective. Mention the relevance of the experiment to field of engineering. It can form a natural transition into the THEORY, METHODS, RESULTS, and CONCLUSIONS sections of the report.
In this section state and explain any equations or theoretical principles and assumptions that were used in the experiment and the analysis. Define all parameters used. To find this information refer to textbooks, notes etc. Refer the reader to a numerical listing of sources in the appendix. Write equations using equation writer in the word processor.
F. EXPERIMENTAL METHODS:
Give a detailed description of how you accomplished the experimentation. This should include equipment used in the experiment as well as how it was used. The description should have sufficient detail so that another experimenter could duplicate your efforts.
Use sketches, diagrams, or photos to describe the experimental set‑up. Label the main components. Provide dimensions and material of test samples where applicable. PRO/ENGINEER, VERSACAD or another CAD package that is suitable can be used to develop and plot your sketches, and spreadsheet programs like Excel can be used for graphs. Include notes on variations from the instruction sheets and any new wiring diagrams or set up that differ from those in the lab instructions.
The equipment listing in the Appendices is the appropriate place for model numbers and serial numbers. In the methods section, use generic names for the equipment, e.g., Creep Testing apparatus.
Summarize your results in an introductory sentence. Relate your results to your objective. Present the results in the easiest way for your reader to understand: graphs, tables, figures, etc. Spreadsheets are often a good approach. See section on preparation of graphs. All tables and figures must be referenced in the text, use a numbering system for identification of each one.
Explain the results of the experiment; comment on the shapes of the curves; compare results with expected results; give probable reasons for discrepancies from the theory; answer any questions outlined in the instructions and solve any problems that may have been presented. Tell why things happened, not only that they did happen. Comparisons should include numerical values and corresponding error percentages where relevant.
Do not present calculations and formulas in this section. Your calculations should be detailed in the Appendices under SAMPLE CALCULATIONS. Formulas should be discussed in the THEORY section.
State your discoveries, judgments and opinions from the results of this experiment. Summarize your primary results in comparison with theory in two or three sentences. These should answer the objective of the experiment. Make recommendations for further study. Suggest ways to improve the experiment. Consider that in the real world, information like that in the RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS will be all that upper management will want to receive. Beyond that, figures may be skimmed. Make the most of these sections.
III. The following sections are to included in the appendices:
A. DATA TABLES:
Data tables are for the convenience of the extremely interested reader. These tables may contain any additional comparisons or calculations that you have prepared and were not included in the RESULTS section which may contain only summaries of your work. Data Tables are the place to show everything that you did.
B. SAMPLE CALCULATIONS:
Demonstrate how you performed the calculation made in the experiment. Include tabular results of computations where such were made. Show the generic calculations to support all your work. Provide any computer or calculator program listings, along with sample input and output.
C. EQUIPMENT LIST:
List every piece of equipment used in the experiment. Provide unique Identification numbers, when possible. State the accuracy and/or the readability of the instruments.
D. RAW DATA SHEETS:
Data sheets must be completed in ink and signed by the instructor at the completion of the laboratory period. In the case of an error, line through the mistake, initial the mistake, and continue. Record the name of the recorder and the group members on the raw data sheets.
List any books or publication that you referenced in compiling your report. Provide titles, authors, publisher, date of publication, page number, Website addresses etc.
IV. Instructions for preparation of graphs:
A. ORIENTATION OF GRAPHS:
Plan the graph in such a way that the binding margin of the graph paper is at the left or at the top.
B. COORDINATE AXES:
Draw the axes of coordinates on the cross‑sectioned part of the sheet, far enough in from the margin to leave room for inserting the scales and their identifications between the edges of the cross‑sectioning and the axes, except when using log‑log paper.
Start all linear scales at (0,0) unless such a procedure would obscure the presentation of data. Of course, this is not possible when using log scales. The units on the major divisions of log scales should be powers of 10.
Choose scales of 1, 2, 4, or 5 units per centimeter, or any decimal multiples, such as 0.1, .002, 400. Proper choice of scales is important. Guiding principles are:
1. Utilize a good portion of the graph sheet area. DO not squeeze curves into one comer.
2. Do not unduly extend the scales. Have the scales readable to the precision of the instruments from which data was taken. Further extension of the scales only scatters the data points, emphasizing the experimental error.
3. Keep in mind the purpose of the graph. Avoid using scales that hide the real meaning or fail to show the intended relationships.
4. Letter in the scale numerals along the axes, putting the abscissa scale beneath the horizontal axis at appropriate intervals. Set all numerals on either axis in a vertical position as viewed from the bottom of the page.
D. SCALE LEGEND:
Letter in the abscissa legend beneath the abscissa scale so as to be read from the bottom of the page. Letter in the ordinate legend to the left of the ordinate scale so as to be read from the right hand of the page. If more than one ordinate scale is used, place each ordinate legend immediately adjacent to the corresponding scale. Use descriptive titles followed by dimensional units, e.g., TIME (min.)
E. OTHER LETTERING:
Use capitals for all lettering on the graph paper. Arrange all except scale legends to be read from the bottom of the page and to run in horizontal lines.
Letter in a concise descriptive title on each graph sheet, preferably in the upper or bottom center. Do not list the legends in the title.
G. DATA POINTS:
Indicate data points by small circles or appropriate geometric symbols drawn with a template or compass, except in the case of correction curves for instruments where the plotted points are not emphasized.
With a FRENCH CURVE or a CAD package, draw smooth curves whose positions are governed by the plotted points. The curves should not necessarily pass through every point but should traverse the combined center of gravity of all the points. Only in the case of perfectly smooth data will all the points lie on the curve.
One exception to the smooth curve rule: For instrument correction curves, join the plotted points by straight-line sections and break the curve where it reaches the data points. Draw curves with ink or with computer printer and software such as WordPerfect, Pro/Engineer, Quattro, Lotus, Microcap, Spice, MathCAD, or TKSolver.
When more than one curve is drawn on the same set axes, carefully identify each curve, preferable with a legend lettered immediately adjacent to the curve. Other (less desirable) methods are to use horizontal legends, each with an arrow pointing to the appropriate curve, or to number the curves and provide a table of titles.
Data points for the different curves should use different geometric symbols.
I. INDEPENDENT VERSUS DEPENDENT VARIABLES:
Plot the independent variable horizontally along bottom of the graph. Plot the dependent variable vertically. The dependent variable is usually mentioned first.