A laboratory notebook is a permanent, documented and primary record of the work that you do in the laboratory. It is a place for you to enter data, observations, and graphs generated from analyses for each activity or experiment that we do in this course. It encourages sound thinking and provides a place for you to note thoughts, write questions, and write modifications to the procedure. It is essentially a place for you to talk to yourself about the work you do in the lab. Your lab notebook will be kept in the classroom at all times. At the end of the year, you will have a complete record of all the work you do in one notebook.
General Formatting Guidelines
- Number the pages in your lab notebook in ink. NEVER remove pages from your laboratory notebook.
- Write your name, the name of the course, and the school year (2011-2012) on the first page of the notebook.
- Pages 2 and 3 will serve as the table of contents. It is important to fill these pages in over the course of the year.
- Never use permanent markers (Sharpie or others), pencil, fountain pens, felt tip pens. Gel pens are best.
- All notebook entries must be dated. Your writing must be legible.
- No entry is ever erased or obliterated in any way, do not black-out or white-out any entry.
- If you make a mistake, want to change an entry or re-copy a section, simply draw a single line through the entry.
- If you change your data, you need to provide an explanation (reading error, balance drift).
- If you need to borrow data from another group (you may only do so with instructor permission) you must cite your source (data from….).
- You may include (glue in) excel spreadsheets, computer generated graphs, photographs of laboratory set-up. You may want to keep a glue stick on hand for this purpose.
- Always include the name of your lab partner.
- You may write on every page consecutively or only on the right page and leave the left page for notes, modifications, questions, etc. Over time you will find a method that works best for you.
Specific Lab Information
Each lab may have slightly different requirements, for example, some labs will ask you to answer pre-lab questions, other labs will ask you to write an introduction or analysis. All information for each lab or activity will be written in your laboratory notebook. You will note any modifications to procedures or any class notes regarding the lab in your notebook.
- Write a title, date, and name of partner(s) at the top of the page
- Objective-a statement of the purpose of the lab. Every entry should begin with a couple of sentences that give a general sense for the purpose and procedure of the experiment.
- Reference-you need to cite your sources if you used them.
- Incude the lab handout or specify the link to it.
- Data Table/Observations-the table should be written into your lab notebook prior to the lab. Sometimes this will be assigned as homework. At times you may generate an EXCEL spreadsheet and glue it in other times you will hand write in a data table. It should always be clear, neat, and well organized. Always include units.
- Analysis/Calculations-this might be a graph or calculations. A graph should have a title and axes should be labeled (be sure to include units). Sample calculations should be shown with steps and units.
- Discussion-this is where you will interpret your results. If you made predictions you should refer back to them here. You can include refinements to the procedure here or include suggestions for additional research. Often you will be guided by questions to answer in this section.