Laboratory Journal Format


General notes:

On every page you should have:

Dates, times, and page numbers.

Each lab day should have:

Basic condition for the day like temperature and humidity (or estimates).

Title Page

The title page gives all the information that is relevant for a reviewer in order to figure out who was involved with the experiment. It should contain the title of the experiment, the names of the participants, and ways to contact the participants if questions arise on the experiment and the results. It should also include dates, times, and locations of the experiment.

Overview

The overview contains observation that leads to a hypothesis, the hypothesis, and a suggested experiment to test the hypothesis, and the predicted outcome of the experiment. This section will include a summary of the reading notes used in determining the hypothesis. Experiments will in general be controlled experiments, and, to be generally accepted, will be replicated multiple times by independent experiments. This means that your notes and musings on this subject must be complete and thorough so that others may understand how you arrived at your hypothesis.

All experiments will involve some sort of hypothesis regardless of how mundane it might seem.

Introduction

A description of the idea behind the experiment. This will include a number of items enticing the reader to understand your experiment. This will describe the reasons behind your experiment. Work by others on the subject matter will usually be summarized here as they apply to your experiment.

Materials

This includes all the equipment, tools, and materials used in this experiment. Include model numbers and serial numbers for the equipment. Sketches of the equipment should suffice, however in some instances pictures of the equipment can be of use.

Procedure

The procedure should be outlined in this section with detailed drawings of the equipment mentioned above and how they were used. The drawings do not have to be perspective drawings, detailed sketches should be sufficient. The procedure does not include data. Data is reserved for the result section or the appendix.

Results

All the results should be included in this section. All data should be done in a marker that is permanent like an ink pen and all mistakes should be crossed out with one single line. Hiding mistakes is NOT appropriate and might call into question the veracity of the data. We all make mistakes; so don't overreact to removing mistakes. If the mistake is due to equipment malfunction or some other explainable action make note of it in the lab book. Tables of data with the appropriate units, graphs with appropriate labels, images of the result with appropriate caption, sketches of some action, diagrams, and simple calculations should all be shown in this section. All measure quantities have an error associated with them. These should be noted here. Give a brief summary of the various sources of error.

Appropriate use of significant figures should also be used when reporting results.

Discussion

This section should include a discussion of the results. Any unusual or note-worthy features should be described here. Any problems with the present experiment or methods to improve the experiment should be cited here.

Conclusion

This section includes the conclusions derived from the result. The results must support the conclusion and the reasons for the support should be cited here. The conclusion should be brief. Any lengthy discussion should be reserved for the discussion section of the lab report.

References

List all books, web sites, and articles used in the completion of the laboratory. This portion might be throughout the journal rather then at this one point.

Examples

A portion of Newton's diary (lab book)
A portion of DaVinci's diary (lab book)
A portion of Einstein's diary (lab book)