Elements of Report Writing - Meet the Faculty - Pepperdine University


Elements of Report Writing - Meet the Faculty - Pepperdine University

Elements of Report Writing

Elements of Report Writing

• Section E, Page 27

• In course website, lab handouts section

will be an example manuscript

• Group effort

Elements of Report Writing

• Group effort but individual grading

Lab groups of three:

Identify each person as 1, 2, or 3

Example, Author

1: Introduction and Conclusion

2: Discussion

3: Data/Results and Experimental

Elements of Report Writing

• Group effort but individual grading

Lab groups of two:

Identify each person as A or B

Example, Author

A: Introduction, Conclusion, Data/Results

B: Discussion and Experimental

Elements of Report Writing

•Group effort but individual grading

Group meets to assemble lab report

Group meets to prepare post-lab questions

Each person submits handwritten Abstract

Each week, report content responsibilities rotate. Note your

responsibility for the week!

Components of the Report

• Abstract

• Introduction

• Experimental

• Calculations

• Data and Results

• Discussion

• Conclusions

• References

• Post-lab questions


A brief and concise statement of the problem,

approach, results, and conclusion.

• It’s a capsule description of the entire paper

• One paragraph

• For this class, handwritten


A brief and concise statement of the problem,

approach, results, and conclusion.


Presented here is a comparison of atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS)

and electrochemical (EC) methods for the determination of copper ion in

the Pepperdine University water reclamation ponds. Analysis by AAS

showed an average concentration of 13 (±2, 1s) mg/L Cu while analysis of

the same sample by EC gave 16.1 (±0.6, 1s) mg/L Cu. The relative

accuracy of each method was not measured. While the AAS method was

faster, it had worse precision than the EC method. Based on our

determinations, for the most exacting analyses, we recommend the EC

method for analysis of copper in a waste water pond or cistern.


A clear statement of the problem, goals, the

general approach to solving the problem, a short

review of how this or a similar problem has been

solved in the past.

• The problem and goals aren’t simply copied from the lab

manual. Those are a checklist of items that the

laboratory addresses

• General approach is not an experimental section but,

rather, a more general statement about how the problem

was solved

• The review places this problem into some historical



The actual procedure used to solve the problem

• This is the actual procedure

• Terse is the operative word here but detailed enough that

another person with your level of expertise could repeat

exactly what you did.

• Must be in prose, not in outline or step form

• Past tense, first-person plural (we…; not, I…)

• Usually written in passive voice but doesn’t have to be

• Standard laboratory apparatus need not be described in

detail but specialized equipment should be.

Data and Results

Presentation of the data and significant results

obtained from the analysis of the data

• Data tables with table number and caption to describe

what the table is summarizing

• Figures and graphs, each with a figure number and


• Results of calculations with appropriate precision


• Must be clearly presented so that the reader can extract

the relevant information quickly and accurately


A statement of the major conclusions drawn from

the data and results

• You claimed earlier that you were going to show

something: Did you What is your “proof”.

• If the data suggest an alternate conclusion than that

proposed, here’s where you say so.

• Explain apparent deviations from hypothesis or theory

• Contrast and correlate your results with others

• Discuss sources of error and improvements to procedures

• If “human error” is going to be your way out of a bad result

then you should have fixed it while still in the lab.


A brief summary of the results of the study

• Concluding paragraph or two of how the experimental

results confirm or refute the expected results

• Alternative explanations

• Refinements

• Very briefly summarize the entire paper


• Not normally included in a professional manuscript

except to show the theoretical underpinnings

• Should include a complete sample of the calculations


• Good place for theoretical considerations of the lab if not

already included in the Introduction


• Any quoted work or references (internet or print) used

must be cited in American Chemical Society format

• Any discussion with colleagues or other professionals

must be cited

• If it isn’t yours, cite it!

Post-Lab Questions

• Some investigations have supplemental post-lab


• Put the answers to post-lab questions in their own

section at the back of the manuscript

Other Important Things

• Tables must be numbered and captioned:

• e.g., Table 1. Densities of Coke and Diet Coke determined

with three different volumetric devices.

• Figures must be numbered and captioned

• Drawings and pictures must be numbered and captioned

• References must be numbered

Every table, figure, drawing, and reference must be

referred to in the text!

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