How to keep a lab notebook by xpy36219


									                              How to Keep a Lab Notebook

In the world of science, the lab notebook is absolutely essential. It is a written record of “goings
on” in the lab, and in some instances can be used as a legal document. For each experiment
done in this class, you will be keeping a lab notebook. Included should be all of the following:

1. Purpose     This is the reason you are doing a specific experiment. It should be a few
sentences long and should include the methodology/technique that will be used and the
expected outcome. If a synthesis is being performed, write out the balanced equation.

2. Procedure This section should be written so as to eliminate the need for the lab manual or
any handouts. It should be written clearly, so that a fellow scientist could read it later and
understand what you are going to do. Drawings of equipment and any safety warnings should
be included.

3. Observations and Data An efficient method to do this section is the “two-column” method.
Write the procedure in one column and in the next column write your observations, any
changes in the procedure, equipment settings, and measurements and data (with units) adjacent
to the step in the procedure. Tables may ease data collection and interpretation. This section
should complete the procedure section so that a fellow scientist can reproduce exactly what you

4. Calculations This section may or may not be present in every lab. Data manipulations are
done here. Formulas and an example calculation (with units!) should be shown for at least one
set of data (in cases where there are multiple trials). It may also be helpful to put a header on a
particular calculation (for example, “ppm calculation”) for easy reference later. Graphs should
be placed in this section.

5. Error Analysis It is always good to analyze an experiment upon completion to see if you
obtained expected results or not. Think about possible sources of error and discuss them here.
How would they influence the final results? Also, think about changes in the experiment that
would make it easier or minimize errors next time.

6. Discussion of Results and Conclusions This section summarizes the experiment. Recall
the objectives of the experiment and discuss any answers, observations, or insights gained.
State important calculated quantities if they relate to the overall objective.

January 2008

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