Format for Submitting a Formal Lab Report


St. Joseph's Preparatory School

Your Name The Actual Date and Time of the Experiment
The Teacher's Name First Collaborator
The Period When You NORMALLY Have Physics Second Collaborator
Date On Which You Are Submitting the Report Third Collaborator

Title of Experiment


PURPOSE The purpose states the reason why an experiment is to be performed. It must contain the following information:
I Identification of the general scientific principle that is to be tested. If the principle has a name (e.g. "Newton's Third Law of Motion"), it must be given as well as an explanation.
The specific hypothesis that is to be tested in this experiment.
Explanation of how this experiment relates to the general principle.
List of any assumptions that must be made.
An intelligent explanation of the reasons for the measurements that will be made and how the data will be analyzed.

The procedure and apparatus section must read very much like a recipe in a cook book. Anyone who reads the report must be able to repeat the experiment. A complete list of equipment must be included with a step by step explanation of how to do the experiment. If circumstances necessitate changes in the procedure or apparatus, the actual rather than planned apparatus and procedure must be reported. It is appropriate to explain changes to the procedure in the conclusions or in a separate section.

The data section must contain these three main parts:
Table(s) of data -- All measurements that are made must be included in the data table(s). All values that are calculated from the measurements must be included in the table(s). Any constants that are important for the calculations should be included in this section.
Graphs, Charts, Pictures -- If the analysis of the data requires the production of graphs or charts. They must be included here. Frequently, graphs, charts or pictures make the data easier to analyze and understand.
Any qualitative (not measured) observations that were made.

In addition, the data & analysis section should contain:
The derivation of any specific equations from the fundamental equations. Sample calculations.

The conclusions must contain these specific things:
I If there are any analysis questions included in the experiment's instructions, they must be answered before the body of the conclusions. All questions must be answered in context of the experiment. One word or cryptic answers are unacceptable. Remember to answer the question that is asked. "How does it work?" is not the same as "What does it do?".
A detailed evaluation of the experiment in terms of the stated purpose:
Did the experiment succeed within its stated limitations? It is not reasonable to assert that the experiment succeeded without specific reference to the data in the context of the purpose.
What specific results justify your conclusions?
New points that could be studied in order to continue the work done in the experiment. This is not always necessary.
Specific analysis of the causes of error in this experiment.
(Only if there were errors that limited the usefulness of the data.)
Human error is not an acceptable reason for inaccuracy.
The experimenter is required to perform an experiment correctly within the limits of the equipment used and the conditions that exist at the time of the experiment. The effects of human error must be confined to the tolerances built into the equipment by the manufacturer.

Minimum Requirements for Lab Reports
  • Lab reports must be completed using Google Docs & Google Sheets or equivalent software.
  • The entire report must be formatted for readability.
  • Reports must be in the appropriate folder on the student's Google Drive by the end of the day when it is due.
  • Data tables must be completed electronically and pasted into the document with the body of the lab report. They should not break over pages. Formatting and resizing will allow data tables to be printed in simple, neat and understandable ways. Graphs must be produced electronically using graphing software and pasted into the body of the document.
  • All Graphs must be formatted properly and include appropriate trend lines.
No lab report will be accepted for grading if any one (or more) of the above requirements is not met.
In this case, the report will be given a zero and late penalties will acrue until a satisfactory report is submitted!


Rubric For Grading Lab Reports

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Thomas Fitzpatrick

St Joseph's Preparatory School
Philadelphia, PA
1 October 2015