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LAB REPORT GUIDE

I. Parts of a Lab Report


1. Introduction
a) Title
b) Research Question
c) Hypothesis
d) Variables
e) Control of Variables
2. Materials & Methods
a) Materials
b) Procedure
3. Data collection and processing
a) Raw data
b) Uncertainty
c) Observations (Data Presentation)
d) Data Processing
e) Graphs
f) Graph Analysis/Interpretation of Graph
4. Conclusion
5. Evaluation
a) Evaluation of errors
b) Improvements
TITLE:

A Design practical has a title that is deliberately vague. Eg. Effect of carbohydrate
concentration on Yeast fermentation.

RESEARCH QUESTION:

You need to start your Design Practical with a focused research question. You are
expected to come up with the independent variable. Use the independent
variable and the dependent variable to phrase your research question.

Eg. What is the effect of a changing glucose concentration on cell respiration in


yeast?

HYPOTHESIS:

A hypothesis is included to help focus your research question. It needs to be an


“if…. then…” statement that includes the independent and dependent variables.
Your hypothesis should be supported with an explanation.

Eg. If the glucose concentration is increased, then the amount of CO2 produced
will also increase. This is because the glucose is used by yeast to produce energy
through cellular respiration. The more glucose that is available, the faster the rate
of cell respiration and more CO2 will be produced. CO2 is a product of cell
respiration in yeast, so more the CO2 higher the rate of cell respiration.

VARIABLES:

Remember to correctly categorize your variables. Eg. If you’re measuring the


growth of yeast then the temperature definitely needs to be controlled.

Independent variable: the variable that YOU change. Eg. Glucose Concentration.

Dependent Variable: The variable that changes when you change the
independent variable (what you measure). Eg. Number of CO2 bubbles produced.
Controlled: All the aspects of the experiment that must be kept constant to
ensure that the experiment is fair. Eg. Temperature, Concentration of Yeast,
Reaction Time.

CONTROL OF VARIABLES:

You must indicate how each controlled variable was maintained. Your method
should include a means of monitoring a controlled variable to keep it constant.

Eg. Temperature ensures the rate of enzyme activity. Since enzymes work best at
their optimum temperature which is 36°C, a water bath containing warm water is
used to maintain this temperature.

MATERIALS:

When writing up your equipment/apparatus list make sure that you include:

• Glasswares such as beakers, flasks. etc.


• Concentration of chemicals (eg. Hydrochloric Acid, 2.0 M)
• Amount of chemicals (eg. Magnesium, 0.50 g)
• Range of thermometer (eg. -20°C to 120°C)
• The amount of each solution (eg. 200 mL)

PROCEDURE:

You have to write your own procedure:

• Point wise
• In passive voice (past tense)
• DO NOT use words such as “I”, “we”, “they” and “you”. etc.

Eg. 0.5 g of magnesium was added to 200 cm3 of 2M hydrochloric acid.

• Your method must also indicate how each controlled variable was
controlled in the experiment.

Eg. A water bath was used to maintain the optimum temperature of 36°C by
adding hot or cold water.
• You can also draw a neat labeled diagram of the experimental set up.
• When designing the method, make sure you change the independent
variable enough times to collect sufficient data for reasonable graphs.

DATA COLLECTION AND PRESENTATION

1. Raw Data:
• Quantitative data (numerical values)
• Qualitative data (observations)
• Uncertainties in apparatus

Collect the raw data properly, so that you can type it neatly for your report.

Dont mix quantitative and qualitative in the same column. Sometimes it is


appropriate to record qualitative data in table, and sometimes not.

Eg. If you are interested in the change in temperature of a reaction record the
initial and final temperature.

Initial Temp (˚C ±0.5˚C): 18


FinalTemp (˚C ±0.5˚C): 49
Change in Temp (˚C ±0.5˚C): 21
2. Observation

The data you have collected must pe presented in a suitable format like tables
with appropriate headings and units, large clearly labelled diagrams, or briefly
worded observations.

When preparing your tables you must address the following

• Units must be included. They should be written ONCE in brackets in


each column heading. Dont put the units after each piece of data.
• All the data in a column must be given to the same number of
decimal places.
• Data must be centered in the column.
• The table needs a suitable and descriptive heading.
• If there is something unusual about a piece of data that you wish to
draw attention towards, put an itlalicized superscripted letter after
the data and make a note under the table.

Eg. Table 1: Gas evolved from magnesium on addition of hydrochloric acid.

Temperature Amount of H2 evolved in 10 minutes


(˚C ± 0.05 ˚C) (cm3 ± 0.5 cm3)
10.2 12
22.3 24
30.4 38
40.1 41a
a. Time taken in this instance was only 5 minutes.

• Avoid repitition. For eg. If in every experiment you used the same amount
of acid just mention in the method. You don’t need a column that repeats it
over and over in your table.

DATA PROCESSING

This involves calculations based on the data you have collected. (Average.etc)

• Dont use rounded off values in further calculations.


• Use headings where possible to explain the section or the step of
calculation you are doing.

GRAPHS

You can draw graphs of various types appropriate to the kind of data you have to
display (line graphs, bar graphs, histograms, pie charts.etc.)

• Give your graph a suitable and descriptive title.


• Label your axes and include units in brackets.
• Ensure your graph is of suitable size and not too narrow in either direction.
GRAPH ANALYSIS/ INTERPRETATION OF GRAPHS

Decribe the trend, pattern or relationship in the data that you can observe and
understand from the graph.

CONCLUSION

• Mention your quantitative results and draw conclusions from them.


• Either support or refute/invalidate your hypothesis with your results. A
hypothesis cannot be “proven”!
• You must explain why/how your results support or invalidate your
hypothesis. You can do this by referring to specific observations, the
gradients/shapes of graphs or values collected/calculated.
• Compare your results to the literature. This may be quantitative literature
values, claims or established theories. If you are comparing your
quantitative results express any difference between your value and the
literature value as a percentage of the literature value.

EVALUATION

Consider some of the following when preparing your evaluation:

• Are there flaws in the procedures used which could affect the result?
• Were important variables not controlled?
• Are the measurements and observations reliable? Eg. Errors associated
with the measuring instruments.
• Is the accuracy of a result unknown because of lack of replication? Eg.
Number of readings.
• What assumptions are being made?

You must also suggest realistic improvements to the procedure, that will ensure
better results to support your hypothesis. You can also give suggestions for
further investigation where required.