Saturday, June 2, 2012

Common Student Mistakes in Lab Report

One of the TA duties of graduate students is to instruct in Lab and grade the lab reports. The report writing aspect of lab is very useful skill, which students can learn and also find it useful later in their career.

Here is a list of common mistakes the students make in the lab report (in no particular order):

  • Use the wrong date (often use the date they do write-up rather than the date of the lab)
  • Forget their lab partners last/name
  • Wrong format for name, lab, etc
  • Introduce the lab rather than simply state their objective
  • Forget to define the equation variable in the theory
  • Forget to relate theory to experiment
  • Forget to put units (or wrong units)
  • Not state general equations
  • Error not 1 sig fig or rounded down
  • Value corresponding to error has more decimal places than the decimal place of the error
  • Forget to put title on the graph or have x vs y instead of y vs x
  • max/min lines not encompass all of the points and their error
  • Not labeling the y-intercepts and/or the slopes (or labeling incorrectly)
  • Majority of the graph space left unused
  • Use data points instead of graph points to find the slope
  • Forget to compare equation of a line with theory equation
  • Not restate results to prove statements in discussion and conclusion
  • Use human error such as "I may have calculated wrong" or "human reaction time" in the sources of error.

Would you like to add that you have encountered?

Adopted from