Laboratory Journal Format
All laboratory work should be kept in a lab journal, which is a bounded notebook. Separate sheets combined do not constitute a lab journal. The lab journal can be a composition book, though specific books are sold for laboratory work.
Laboratory books are like a professional diary with certain expected entries as listed below.
Mistakes are to be crossed out with single line. Under no circumstances are they to be erased or scribbled out. They should still be observable to the lab reviewer.
Unlike the report where order should be maintained, the lab journal will, by it's nature, have less order. Try to maintain order as best you can, but don't re-write or re-do pages of a lab journal. They are meant to stay intact as they were done. Your lab report WILL have order.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.