The lab reports required in this course make up the vast majority of your final grade. Accordingly, you probably want to write the best lab reports possible. This page is dedicated to helping you achieve that goal. We will make extensive use of the LabWrite system for and evaluating your lab reports.
Are you prepared?
The place to start is by evaluating your current skill level. Do you have experience writing complete lab reports for science courses? The lab reports required for this class are quite different from compositional writing such as essays. They also are more demanding than lab reports in some other classes where students only need to fill in answers to questions in their lab manuals.
You can start by looking at the sample lab reports posted here to get a general idea of the quality that is expected. Also, some of the early assignments you complete in this class are designed to help us assess how much guidance and assistance you will need in preparing your lab reports. If you ace the early assignments and think that you can easily prepare a report as good or better than the sample reports, you may not need much of the assitance we offer here. On the other hand, if you have problems with the early writing assignments or feel intimidated by the sample lab reports, we have plenty of resources here and we will provide support throughout the semester to help you develop strong writing skills and write great lab reports.
Lab Reports - Expectations and Grading process
Lab reports, and the PreLab report assignments must be typewritten and submitted via Blackboards SafeAssign feature as a Microsoft Word document. Feedback will be provided by email as a Word document with comments and markup in the document. Lab reports will be graded according to the grading rubric shown in the sample Grading Sheets below. Often our feedback on prelabs and lab reports will include references to one or more "common problems". You can get assistance with solving these by going to the common problems page.
- Lab Report 1 - Expectations and instructions (under revision as of Jan 27, 2011).
- Grading Sheet for Lab Report 1
- Lab Report 2 - Expectations
- Grading Sheet for Lab Report 2
- Lab Report 3 - Expectations
- Grading Sheet for Lab Report 3
- Common lab report problems and how to fix them
Sample Lab Reports
These samples should give you a good idea of the quality of writing and organization that we expect in the lab reports:
The main thing that will be different about the lab reports assigned for this semester is that each lab report will present more than one experiment. We will discuss in more detail how to do this during the semester.
Links to helpful web resources
We will make extensive use of the LabWrite site at North Carolina State University. This is an outstanding resource developed to help students write good lab reports. Note that to use this site most effectively will require that you consult it before you conduct the lab experiments. When using the labwrite modules, always select "Self-Guide" mode for a "Standard Lab"
Your lab reports will be graded according to the standards very similar to those described by LabWrite, using a grading sheet customized for this class.
Some other sites that offer good guidance for writing lab reports:
- The Lab Reports page at the University of North Carolina Writing Center
- The Writing in Biology site at the University of Richmond
Finally, I strongly recommend reading this outstanding article about how to create clearly written scientific reports.
For assistance in preparing and perfecting your lab report, we strongly recommend that you consult the Undergraduate Writing Center. They provide individual, professional advice to help you prepare your report. You can make an appointment to meet with a consultant, or you can just walk in for a consultation during off-peak times of the semester.