Sample Lab Notebook
The sample lab report is on Compton scattering, which is an experiment not performed in either Physics 431 or Physics 432. The report exemplifies the kinds of information and discussion that would warrant a good grade. You should pay particular attention to the following:
- The first page states the title, names of partners, and dates.
- The description of the experimental design shows a complete set of annotated diagrams. Each component is described with pictures and notes. The idea is to give enough detail so that a skilled experimenter could reproduce the setup.
- There are preliminary calculations which can be used during the data taking to insure that the collected data will be good enough for a careful analysis.
- The method and results of any calibrations are shown.
- The analysis of the data provides a quantitative discussion of the agreement between measurements and theory.
- There is a disussion of the sources of error along with an estimate as to how important each source is, and whether it would contribute to systematic errors or random errors.
- There is the use of error propagation in analyzing the uncertainty in the data due to uncertainty in one of the parameters.
- The final written part states the results in the form of an abstract, describes the source of the largest random and largest systematic error, and gives a reasoned argument and quantitative answer to a discussion question.
The depth of the error analysis in this sample report goes beyond what we would usually expect from students. You will also notice that about half of the pages in the report are raw data plots and curve fits--this is typical. Also, only a modest attempt has been made to edit the writing; you will see typos, grammatical mistakes, and other problems that you would not want in a polished paper. This "sloppiness" is on purpose: the sample is supposed to represent an excerpt from a working notebook, not a journal article.
The sample lab report on Compton scattering has been removed from this site. If you would like to obtain a copy, please send an email request to David Pengra at email@example.com