Physics 135/136/163/164 Introductory Physics Labs

PLU Department of Physics Course Policies

Lab Reports and Evaluation

Guidelines/hints for your lab notebook

When deciding what you should write in your lab book and how you should write it, the basis for judgment is utility. The first reason to keep a scientific notebook is to keep track of what you've done, so you don't have to waste time repeating yourself. Your record should be complete enough so that you can still understand what you've done if you were to look at your work six months later - or six weeks later, during your lab quiz.

In the professional world, your work will probably be challenged; you will be asked to justify your conclusions or interpretations. Your lab notebook (or equivalent) will be your best instrument for defense. Therefore, it should contain enough information to respond to the skeptic (e.g., your thesis supervisor or your project manager) who asks:

In addition to these topics, lab books often contain the first preparatory steps toward the interpretation and publication of the results. Your lab book will also serve as a lab report, so it should also contain a brief presentation of your results, the analysis necessary to extract the results from the data, and the conclusions that you can draw from the experiment. The report will usually include all or most of the following items: