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drinhma/CPB20104/july2012

LAB REPORT PREPARATION

Writing up experiments Report-writing is an essential part of the engineer's craft. It is the formal means by which ideas and information are transferred to others. You must therefore be able to write and present your information sufficiently clearly that it can be easily understood. Experiments should be written up in the way traditionally used in scientific literature. All experiments must be written as a full-length report and your laboratory reports must be word-processed.

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Objective(s)

A simple statement of what it is/are you plan to do in the experiment (in simple words and NOT in point form)

2.0

Summary/ Abstract

Even though it comes at the beginning you would write this section last. It is a brief statement of what you did and what you found. It should directly address the original aims of the experiment. If you have calculated a numerical constant give its value and comment on its validity. It will be mainly based on your conclusions so will not repeat theory, experimental method etc. The length of the summary will normally be less than 100 words.

3.0

Results/ Data

This is simply a record of the data recorded during the experiment. Normally it would be given in one or more Tables, which would include units and numbers reported to an appropriate accuracy, typically consistent with the instrument accuracy. Remember that a report is read and so the text must refer the reader to all Tables, Figures, Graphs, Equations, Appendices etc. which otherwise could be missed, especially in a large report. So this section would typically start The data obtained is given in Table X and then give further detail as required of how the data is presented. It is important that all the raw data is presented in the report, that is before any changes of unit or other calculations have been done 4.0 Discussions

In this section you will apply to the data the theory and equations. Typically you may need to change raw data to another form, or use it to calculate other variables, and then perform some comparison with theoretical values, either calculated from theoretical equations or extracted directly from the literature. You should give an example of each of the main calculations performed, sufficient that any errors can be easily detected, but avoid unnecessary repetition. The final results of the calculations are often best presented in a Table, which may be an extension of the original data Table if convenient, and then plotted on one or more graphs. The illustration of data in graphical form is a key skill which will be of value throughout both your course and your career, so time spent developing this skill is very worthwhile. Basic graphs can be produced in EXCEL, but note that the basic default x-y scatter format with grey background and single set of grid lines needs to be re-formatted. In designing your graph you should think carefully about what you are trying to illustrate. Avoid unnecessary detail which can obscure the main aim of the graph. Remember that if you are comparing your measured data points with a theoretical equation, it is often best to present your data simply as discrete points, with no associated line, whilst the theory equation is represented by a line, with no points. Appropriate selection of symbols and line styles, together with a legend, then enables several sets of data and theoretical predictions to be included on a single graph. Alternatively you may be trying to match a bestfit line to the data, and computer packages have facility for this. Each graph should have a Figure number and title and be referred to within the text of the report. Axes should be suitably labelled including units.
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Often it is only after the results have been plotted that the main findings of the experiment become apparent, so you are advised to plot out your results before writing the discussion. Remember that any claim you make about your experiment must be justified by your results, and a clear graphical representation often provides such justification. The discussion is perhaps the most critical part of the report, in that it enables you to put the results in the context of established theory and to demonstrate your depth of understanding of the topic. The discussion should focus on the aims of the experiment. It should typically identify any significant trends arising from the data analysis and compare results obtained with established theory. Specific discussion points are sometimes also identified in the laboratory manual, and these should also be addressed. You should be critical in your discussion and try to explain any disagreement with theory in a logical and constructive way. The impact of errors or uncertainties on your results should also be considered. Error bars can sometimes be usefully incorporated on graphs.

5.0

Conclusions & Recommendations

This should be limited to what the evidence of the experiments tells you, not what you read elsewhere. Alternatively, in the context of writing a laboratory report, the following may be concluded: Writing a laboratory report is a significant task which cannot be satisfactorily done in a last minute panic. The report has a formal structure which must be followed. Writing a good report is a valuable skill which needs to be developed through practice. An understanding of the background theory of the subject needs to be developed. Whilst conducting the experiment details of equipment need to be recorded as well as carefully recording the raw data. The presentation and discussion of the results is a key aspect of the report.

6.0

References

This is a vital part of the report. If you fail to properly acknowledge and reference the work of others which you have used in some way in writing the report you will normally be assumed to be trying to cheat by claiming their work as your own, and be reported for plagiarism. For further information on plagiarism and unfair means you should refer to the Department Undergraduate Handbook, the notes on MOLE and specific guidance issued by module leaders. References should be given in the text with name and year, e.g. (Levenspiel, 1999). In this section at the end give sufficient details to identify the source, including year and page numbers. For example: Levenspiel, O. (1999) Chemical Reaction Engineering, 3 ed. Wiley, 513-516. Rodger, L. (1982) Developments in the Concentration of Sulphuric Acid, Chemical Engineering Progress, Feb. 39-43. Sulco Chemical Ltd. (2001) www.sulcochemicals.com/proc.html: Plant Process and Diagrams. Note that much of the information on the Internet should not be regarded as part of established scientific literature, so should not form the main basis of your references.
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Some things to bear in mind: (i) Do not reproduce large chunks of the handout verbatim. The handout will contain a certain amount of background information, but is not always written in a style that is appropriate to a scientific report.
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(ii) (iii)

(iv)

(v) (vi) (vii)

Make sure you write in the third person and use the past tense. Write in English (no text message-style abbreviations) remember: this is a scientific report. Pay great attention to the accuracy of your data. Do not quote data to 7 significant figures unless it is justified. If you use a computer spreadsheet (e.g. Excel), make sure that you format your columns to give an appropriate number of significant figures. Markers have been instructed to deduct marks for inappropriate presentation of data. When drawing graphs (this must be by computer), show all your data points with clear symbols. Do not be embarrassed by scatter of data. Scatter of data may be telling you something important about the accuracy of the experiment. Consider data points carefully before drawing a best curve. This may not always be a straight line. Use Times New Roman (12pts) throughout the report. Any Header or Footer are not allowed EXCEPT the page number should be printed at the right bottom of page. Bold and underlined the Chapter in the lab report as exhibited below; 1.0 Objective(s)

2.0

Summary/ Abstract

3.0

Results/ Data

4.0

Discussions

5.0

Conclusions & Recommendations

6.0 (viii)

References

Too long report is not a guarantee for an excellent lab report and good marks.

**If you are unclear on any point regarding your reports, talk to your lecturer, the marker, Dr. In. Nurul Hasyimah Mohd Amin.