Writing in the Disciplines: Chemistry - Basic Format of a Chemistry Lab Report

Basic Format of a Chemistry Lab ReportWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Abstract - The abstract is a brief summation of the experiement. It should not exceed two hundred words and should explain, in a concise manner, the purpose of the experiment, how the experiment was conducted, and the results gained. Any conclusions gained from the experiment should also be summarized within this section.

Questions to Answer:

  • What you did?
  • How you did it?
  • What were the results?

Introduction - The introduction provides background information about the experiment. This includes the purpose behind the experiment, research that already exists and pertains to the experiment, and why the experiment was performed. This is the section in which your hypothesis and a summary of the experimental method should also be included.

Questions to Answer:

  • Why was the experiment performed?
  • What knowledge already exists about this subject?
  • What is the specific purpose of the experiment?

Reaction Equation - The reaction equation is usually included within the laboratory manual in the section that provides the instructions for the experiment. Details that should be included are the structure and name of both the reactants and the products, the temperature of the experiment, and solvent used. If more than one reaction occurs, be sure to draw the necessary arrows and include the intermediate(s).

Experimental Section - The experimental section details all methods used to create the experiment. The final product should be included first at the beginning of the paragraph in bold if it is known. Included in parenthesis after all reactants should be the amount in grams of the reactant used

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for the experiment and the value in moles. Passive voice is often used to describe the methodology of the experiment. Remember, first person is not used. After a concise write-up of the experimental process, the results are provided in this order: amount of the final product in grams, name of the final product, the melting point of the final product with the known literature value, Gas Chromatography Mass Spectroscopy (GCMS) data, H NMR data, and Infared Spectroscopy (IR) data. An example of this can be found in the sample lab report the end of this section.

Results and Discussion - The result and discussion sections are usually combined together within the lab report. In this section, all results from the experiment are provided. After all results have been provided, they are analyzed ('discussed') to explain what the data entails. All values should be interpreted to determine the implications in terms of your stated hypothesis. Other things to include are any flaws in the experimental process that could have affected the data, how the experimental process could be improved, and possible future experiments that could be conducted to further your data.

Conclusion - Restate the purpose of your experiment and the results in as concise a manner as possible.

Question(s) - Questions given by the instructor should be answered after the conclusion.

References - Include all references used ( for literature values of specific compounds, etc. ) here. Remember to cite the lab manual as well.

  • Lab Report Format and Questions to Answer are from Organic Chemistry 205 Lab Manual by Dr. Robert Miller

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