GUIDE TO LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS
North Central College Chemistry Department
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Your laboratory notebook book is a record of all your observations,
data and calculations from your work in the lab. In the real world, laboratory
notebooks are taken very seriously. Scientists in governmental, educational
and industrial labs are expected to maintain legible, thorough laboratory
notebooks which document their work. A well written laboratory notebook
will enable a company to protect possible patent rights and prevent wasting
energy from repeating work previously done. The laboratory notebook will
protect the institution and individual scientist in any scientific misconduct
or fraud cases.
Faculty evaluation of your laboratory performance will be based upon
reading your laboratory record book and write-up rather than upon observing
you directly in the laboratory. Therefore, your reports must be designed
to document your technique as well as your results in carrying out a laboratory
procedure. The following guidelines have been designed to enable you to
communicate effectively through your laboratory record book.
1. To understand chemistry by "doing" chemistry
2. To critically evaluate data
3. To develop good laboratory techniques
4. To learn chemical safety
1. Always bring your laboratory notebook to each laboratory session
2. Label the front cover with your name, course number and lab section.
3. Maintain a table of contents on the first two pages. All previously
used lab notebooks must be equipped with a TAB allowing the notebook to
be opened to the table of contents corresponding to this course.
4. Number the right hand pages and make your entries on these pages
only. No data entry should be done on the left hand side of the page. You
may place graphs on the left hand side of the page.
5. All data, observations and calculations must be recorded directly
into the lab book in ink.
6. If a mistake has been made, draw a single line through the entry
and note the correction. Never completely delete any entry from a laboratory
record book by erasing, using liquid paper, or by removing pages.
7. You are expected to take the time to write neatly and legibly.
8. Word-processed work must be in written in Arial, 12 point font
(except when symbol font is needed for Greek Characters).
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR EACH LABORATORY WRITE-UP
Your write-up will consist of two parts. The Date, Title, Objective
and Methods & Data sections will be recorded in your laboratory
before and during the laboratory session. This will be graded as you leave
the lab. You will also to submit a carbon copy of all pages of the laboratory
write-up as you leave the laboratory. The Date, Title, Objective(s),
Results & Analysis, Discussion, Conclusion, and Questions sections
will be handed in as a word processed paper. This paper will be combined
with the carbon copies you submitted as you left the laboratory and your
pre-laboratory assignment that was submitted as you entered the laboratory.
The following gives you details of what should be included in each section.
To be included in the laboratory record book:
Date: The date on which the laboratory was performed should appear on
the top of the first page for each laboratory session.
Title: An appropriate title for the laboratory should appear on the
top of the page. This title and the page on which it appears should be
put into your table of contents.
Objective: You should state in your own words (paraphrase rather than
merely quote the objectives) what you will accomplish by doing this lab.
This will include the purpose of the lab with respect to what you will
synthesize, isolate and/or observe as well as what techniques you will
learn by doing this lab.
To be handed in on paper as a word processed document (Note: All
Methods & Data: This is a section for you to use while doing your
lab. You should include one or two brief statements that succinctly describe
the procedure next to or near all data. Include comments to document good
(or bad) technique. You should record any observations (e.g. color or temperature
changes) so that somebody who is using your laboratory as a guide will
know that they are performing the experiment correctly. You must record
your data directly into your lab book. Any loose pieces of paper found
during the lab section will be tossed into the garbage. It is recommended
that you set up tables for data collection but you may collect your data
in any format you chose. All data must be clearly labeled. This section
will not be graded for neatness although mistakes and corrections must
conform to the procedures outlined above.
should be made using a spreadsheet such as Excel. You may neatly
equations and calculations):
Date and Your Name: The date on which the laboratory was performed should
appear on the top of the first page for the laboratory report. Your name
should also be at the top of the first page of each laboratory report.
Title: An appropriate title for the laboratory should appear on the
top of the page..
Objective(s): You should state in your own words (paraphrase rather
than merely quote the objectives) what you accomplished by doing this lab.
This will include the purpose of the lab with respect to what you synthesized,
isolated and/or observed as well as what techniques you learned by doing
Results & Analysis: This is a section for your professor to see
the data you collected and for analysis of such data. Data should be organized
in neat, easy to read tables. Be sure to include all of your data; any
color changes, state changes, etc must be documented along with numerical
data. Graphs and calculations should appear in this section. You need not
show all your calculations, but you should include one example for each
type of calculation. Be sure to include words of explanation and the appropriate
mathematical formulas so that the calculations are intelligible. All numbers
need appropriate units. Summarize your results and calculations in neatly
prepared graphs and tables. Label tables as Table 1: Title of Table, Table
2: Title of Table, etc. and graphs as Figure 1: Title of Figure, Figure
2: Title of Figure, etc.
Discussion: A thorough discussion is expected for every lab write-up.
Summarize and explain your results. You are also expected to discuss whether
your data makes sense (and if not, why you think it is not correct), where
are possible places for error, and any other pertinent comments about the
lab. Questions may be provided at the end of labs may help you to think
about what should be discussed in this section.
Conclusion: This section should only be a few sentences long (maximum
of five). You should address all of your objectives and how you accomplished
each of them. Be sure to include any major numerical results. For example,
if you planned to find the concentration of calcium ion in pond water,
you would write "The concentration of calcium ion in pond water was determined
to be 4.0 mM."
Questions: At the end of many of your lab handouts, a set of questions
will be asked. Answer these questions in your write-up after your conclusion.
While you do not need to re-copy the question, you should answer these
questions in full sentences so that your professor does not need the questions
in front of him/her in order to figure out which question you are answering.