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Science

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Data Tables (10) may be incorporated inline into your lab report or may be placed at the end (as in the example) if it is more convenient. Data tables should be identified with a descriptive header. Each column should have a heading that describes the physical quantity that is recorded in the column. The column heading should also show the units of the physical quantity and the uncertainty in the quantity (if known). Numerical values recorded in the table should be rounded to the appropriate number of significant digits Graphs (11) may be incorporated inline into your lab report or may be placed at the end (as in the example) if it is more convenient. Graphs should be prepared on the computer. You should adhere to the following guidelines when preparing a graph. 1. Title – Every graph should have a title which identifies the graph by a number (i.e. Graph 1) along with some descriptive text that tells exactly what is plotted (i.e. Velocity vs. Time) and perhaps the purpose of the graph (i.e. Determination of Acceleration and Initial Velocity). 2. Axes and Axes Labels – Both axes should be labeled with descriptive text that tells the name of the physical quantity that is plotted on that axis and the units of that physical quantity (i.e. Velocity (cm/s)). Numerical values of the physical quantity should be printed at the major tick marks. 3. Size and Clarity – All graphs should be printed at a size that is sufficiently large so that the information can be easily read. Typically this means to make your graphs occupy most of the printed page. Choose WKU University Physics Laboratory I-4 How to Write a Lab Report axes limits so that the region of interest occupies most of the graph. Choose font sizes that are sufficiently large to be easily readable. 4. Graph Modes – You should adjust the graph mode so that individual data points are shown with some form of marker or with dots. Data values should never be connected with a jagged line. Show relationships that represent the best fit to data using lines with no markers. 5. Annotation – Whenever a best fit is performed on a graph, the results of the fit should be clearly displayed on the graph. In the case of a linear fit one should show the values of the slope and the y intercept. Be sure to include also the associated uncertainties and units. It is a good idea to include a measure of the goodness of fit (either the chi-squared value or the linear correlation coefficient – both discussed later) on the graph. Also, if possible, describe the physical significance of the slope and intercept as is done in the graph above. Finally, be sure to place your name (and your partner’s names if appropriate) and the date on the graph. 6. Uncertainty Bars – Whenever the uncertainties of individual data values are known they should be represented on the graph with uncertainty bars (often called error bars) as is shown in the above graph.

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