Suggestions for laboratory report creation
Aims of a lab report
The making of lab reports in the university should prepare you for making them in your future jobs. There are multiple reasons for writing lab reports:
- your boss wants to know your work progress
- your collegues have to know your work results, to use them in their work
- your clients want to know the parameters and operation of the product you're selling, and they have to be able to repeat your measurements to check these parameters
- your clients and the government want to know your product is safe and of high quality
- if you discover something, the lab report will allow other scientists to repeat the experiment and confirm your discovery (so you get the credit)
These reasons may help understand the criteria for a good lab report.
For electronic reports, please use PDF/A file format to maximize compatibility. Please give your file
a name that includes your name, the subject and the measurement's number or name, for example:
Please note that in Hungary, the date format has the following order
This order conforms to the international standard ISO8601. We recommend the use of the standard for the sake of clarity. (Sometimes you will find people writing the name of the month instead of number for extra clarity when dealing with foreign people, though it is not standardised. Also, in old tradition Hungarians often use Roman numerals for the month number.)
The lab report contains the measured exercises and the results. The full measurement guide doesn't have to be quoted in the report (must not be!), only a short summary of the exercise (what circuit and parameters and why are you measuring), including block diagram or circuit diagram with necessary parameters.
The results should be presented numerically (in table format if necessary) and when applicable, in graph format too.
Graphs should have axes with arrows and quantities and units (dimensions).
The results of the measurement have to be interpreted (analysed). What was expected and why? Did we measure what was expected? If not, what is the probable reason for it? (Though if you find out the reason in time, it is advisable to repeat that part of the measurement. There may be extra measurement time allocated for such reasons, discuss it with your teacher.)
As a final note, take care of how your lab report looks like. Do not present something that you would not wish to present in a job interview. If it looks like it was pulled from a dog's mouth, it will not be accepted. It's not only about aesthetics and dignity, but a nice document is also a readable, ergonomic document, that helps to prevent misunderstandings and therefore possible injuries (eg. if you are going to create design plans later).
In short, a good lab report contains the following:
- Measurement (experiment) aims and questions.
- Block diagram, circuit diagram of each measurent option.
- Given parameters (component values, physical quantities etc)
- Measuring instruments and method.
- When possible, expected results gained from calculation
- (include the whole calculation: formula=substitution=result in SI prefix format)
- or expected result from theoretical knowledge
- Measured quantities in numerical format, in tables when applicable
- Measurement results in graph format, when applicable (characteristics, waveforms).
- Even if the lab guide doesn't ask you to do it!
- Graphs should be in XY format, usually in linear uniform axis spacing (maybe sometimes in logarithmic).
- Use the measured value markers for the graph. Ie. don't just show lines, but the dots/squares/whatever markers for the actual points.
- Analysis of result: comparison of theory, calculation (expectations) with measurement results.
- All of these in an aesthetic, readable, understandable and precise format.
It is recommended to include the calculations together each actual measurement exercise and not separately in the first part of the report. Ie. write down Task 1, circuit, parameters, calculation, measurement, analysis. Then Task 2, and so on.
Word processors and converters
- PDF Creator (works as a virtual printer for all Windows systems)
- OpenOffice (Includes word processor with PDF support)
- Word ODF converter
- DOCX web based converter
Standards and formats
Printable graph (mm and log etc) papers (you can use these for the lab report graphs)