Each laboratory notebook must be written as an individual effort, never as a group project. The times when pressures mount up such as when you are worried about grades, or at the end of the trimester, or in times of illness are the most likely time to be tempted to get unauthorized help on an assignment. Therefore, be especially careful at such times. Remember that I am always available to provide extra help when you need it, and to discuss alteration of due dates in the event of illness.
Academic integrity applies to the laboratory as well as on quizzes and examinations. Because the experiments and lab reports are done in a public setting, sometimes students have a harder time deciding just what conduct is or is not allowed.
All lab reports in Advanced Chemical Topics will be individual reports unless you are specifically instructed otherwise.
Data should never be changed after the experiment has been completed. It is a violation of academic and scientific integrity to change or discard data without the instructor's prior consent. "Whiteout" is not authorized. If a mistake is made then a line or x may be neatly drawn through whatever is in error.
Lab reports are written as an individual effort, never as a group project. This also applies to background questions and lab questions when used.
If you have questions, or need help with a lab assignment, you should:
- consult the lab directions and/or textbook
- consult the teacher
- consult other students only if exercising care to avoid violations of academic integrity.
You may receive help from other students if that aid simply helps you to better understand some point and then to write up your own assignment. You may NOT receive help which amounts to another student directly telling you the answer to an assignment or the other student working through the material with you such that the answers become the product of a joint effort. This restriction outlaws much more than direct copying of another's answers. Giving of aid is in violation of academic integrity just as well as receiving aid.
Examples of the type of help you MAY receive from other students include:
Clarification of an assignment: "What types of things should be included in this discussion section?""What does this term mean?" "What is this question really asking?
Clarification of facts: "What solution did we use?" "Are cobalt solutions pink?"
Clarification of method: "How is percent yield calculated?" "How do you convert from density to volume?"
Examples of the type of help you MAY NOT receive from other students include, but are not limited to:
Direct answers to assignments, even if you rewrite them in your own words: "What did you write for your discussion section?" "Let me read the answer you wrote to the first question."
Direct aid in working through an assignment: "Help me calculate this percent yield." "Show me which numbers to multiply together." "Let's work through these equations together."
Raw data or calculated results of another student.
There should never be any reason for you to look at another student's lab report or for you to allow another student to look at your lab report.
If you ever have questions regarding what is or is not acceptable behavior, consult the instructor.
II. KEEPING THE LABORATORY NOTEBOOK
The notebook entries for each experiment should include the title of the experiment, date started, purpose, an introduction, procedure with data and observations, all calculations, results and discussions.
Experiment Number and Title of the experiment (underlined), and the date the experiment was begun. The name of your partner should be placed below the date (which should be on the right hand side, about three lines from the top of the page. Be sure each new experiment begins on the right-hand page, even if it means leaving a blank page on the left.
Purpose: write a brief statement of the objective(s) of the experiment. Do not use "I" in the purpose, but write in the future tense since the purpose must be written out before the experiment is begun.
Introduction: this section should be a brief discussion of the important aspect(s) of the experiment. A discussion of a concept being studied, and/or the mathematical relationship(s) involved in the experiment, or definitions important to the experiment should be included. Once something has been described it need not be described in future introductions. This section should be written in narrative form using complete sentences.
Hypothesis: (when required) your statement of the expected outcome(s) of the experiment based on the knowledge you have about the concept(s) involved.
- Procedure: describe what you did, using past tense, abbreviated narrative form. Write this in you lab book as soon a possible, preferably before going on to the next step of the procedure. Standard techniques such as massing by difference, or measuring volumes with a graduate or buret need not be described in detail. Tell enough, but don't be too wordy. If the experiment involves more than one specific procedure, use a separate paragraph for each part. Be sure you include the names of pieces of equipment used, and their sizes, as well as the amounts of chemicals used. A sketch of the apparatus set-up, or instrumentation used, can be very useful and save a lot of words. Leave a margin of at least three squares on each side and three lines at top and bottom.
- Observations and Data: measurements should be recorded immediately after they are made and labeled as to what they represent. Units of measure must always be shown.
Written observations should be clear and concise. Write observations immediately, or you may very well forget something. If data is reported within the body of the procedure, as opposed to within a data table, it should be underlined.
Calculations: any formulas used should be written first, and any new symbols used should be defined (if not included in the introduction). All calculations are to be shown set up. It is expected that a calculator will be used to do the actual calculations. Organize the calculations as they are carried out, and include units. Label what the calculation represents. Do the calculations on the left-hand page.
Results and Discussion: state the outcome of the experiment in narrative form. Results of calculations (with the correct number of significant digits) are to be included. Equations for any chemical reactions that occurred should be placed on a left hand page and labeled as such. Graphs, when required, should be clearly labeled and titled. If there are two or more different graphs, then they should be identified as Fig. 1, etc. Computer generated graphs should have excess paper trimmed off and be attached to the notebook page with clear tape all the way around. Sources of any values/information used in calculations or in discussion or answering questions should be given in standard reference format.
Answers to Questions: you can expect to be given a few questions (or problems) based on the experiment. The questions need not be written out, but answers to questions should be in complete sentences so as to indicate the question.
Problems: these should be worked out within this section and not on the left-hand page, as these do not involve your own data.
Conclusions: (needed only when there is an hypothesis) discuss the hypothesis in terms of the results and possible areas for future study.
Signature/Date: sign and date the completed write-up 2-3 lines below the end of the write-up.
Send questions, comments or suggestions to
Gwen Sibert, at the
Roanoke Valley Governor's School
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