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Physics Lab Report Guidelines

First, take time to study the lab manual and solve the warm-up problems. Things will go smoother for
you (and you will learn more!) if you have some idea of what is expected of you when you arrive at the
lab.
The report should include the following:
Cover Sheet (from the Lab Manual):

Name, & Lab partners names

Procedure/Statement of the Problem: Start off with one or two sentences describing what you are
trying to accomplish with the experiment . Before any data or results are displayed, an explanation
should be given as to how that data was obtained and what equipment was used to do the
measurements. Include sketches or diagrams that help to explain how you carried out the experiment.
Prediction: Present your predictions based on your solution to the warm-up problems. If your
prediction was wrong, correct it and ensure that you've understood the correction.
Experiment and Results: This part of the lab report has two subsections:
1- Data & Data Tables: Data taken during the experiment and data later calculated should be displayed
in neat tables (see an example on the next page).
Here are some of the points I look at when evaluating your data:
Was the data taken carefully and accurately?
Are the errors associated with every measured number presented accurately?
2 Results: Compare your experimental results to your predictions. Also, account for problems in your
data.
Is the data compared with theoretical calculations, and are any comparisons between data and
theory that are requested in the lab manual done? Are the results discussed, with correct
conclusions drawn?
Conclusions: Give a short summary of what your results show. The key word is to summarize the
lab and what you learned from the lab. The following ideas should always be addressed:
a. Did you accomplish the goals stated in the purpose ?
b. Discuss sources of error in your experiment (not just human error!).
c. Find the percent difference between your experimental results and the accepted values for
those same quantities.
Note: You do not need to calculate percent difference for each of the data points just one or two
relevant quantities should be enough.

EXAMPLE DATA:
Data taken during the experiment should be included in the lab report using the following format as an
example. This is necessary and clean presentation of data is an important part of writing the lab report.

DATA FOR DEFLECTION OF THE ELECTRON BEAM


Predicted
Trial
Voltage (V)
Distance (mm)
Distance (mm)
1

4.5 +/- 0.5

1.5+/- 0.10

1.02 +/- 0.10

8 +/- 0.5

2.5 +/- 0.10

2.01 +/- 0.10

10 +/- 0.5

2.9 +/- 0.10

2.5 +/- 0.10

12 +0.5

3 .8+/- 0.10

3 +/- 0.10

Acknowledgment
This lab guideline is a modification of Physics Lab Guideline used at Hartnell University, University
of Maryland and information based on the University of Minnesota Lab Manual.