Laboratory Write-ups: Pre-Lab Prep & Notebooks

For each laboratory experiment, you will turn in your Pre-Lab Prep and a scan of your Lab Notebook.

Pre-Labs Preparation:

Most of the laboratory experiments include pre-lab prepration. You conduct this preparation (as outlined in the Lab Guides) in your lab notebook. Preparation for the lab experiments is critical. Preparation will most often consist of two components. The first will be done using Mathematica where you will have to predict the response of the circuits you will build in lab. The second part will be addressing laboratory preparation as called for in the specific lab-guides. As well as brought to lab preferably in your notebook and (for Mathematica code) on your laptop (or USB memory stick).
Lab-prep documents are due at midnight the evening before your lab and should be uploaded as a single PDF file (See below) to the dropbox on D2L. Late submissions will NOT be accepted. It is very important to finish the Pre-Labs before you start the experiment.

Lab notebooks: See the example and descrpition.

This will be the primary form of documenting your laboratory experience. It should be complete and designed to capture the goals of your lab, the procedures / approaches used, your analysis and modeling of the experiemnt, the results and interpretation. By reading your lab notebook another scientist should be able to interpret what experiemnt you conducted, observe your data and follow your analysis and findings. It should contain enough information that another person could replicate your work. It will include and build on your labatoraty prep work, your mathematica code/ models, show your data, compare your data and analysis and reconcile differences.

  1. A lab notebook will provided at the beginning of the course. You should the notebook to every lab including the times you work on your final project. Do not use loose sheets. If you ever forget to bring your notebook to the lab and have to use loose sheets instead, be sure to tape or glue these into your lab book as soon as possible.
  2. Don’t skip pages. Use them all. Write in ink. Don’t erase mistakes, rather, box them and put a line through with short explanation e.g., ‘Wrong!’.  Do not tear out or remove pages.
  3. Enter the date in your notebook when you start to work each day. Use a consistent format so it is easy to find the work that was done on a given day or a given experiment.  Noting the time in your lab book for the start of specific experiments is also useful.
  4. Keep a record of your data as well as of the experimental procedure, describing what you tried, what worked and what did not work etc.
  5. Your lab book will be your main format for communicating what you did in the lab, your results, and scientifically argued conclusions. Make sure that you get your instructors input on your lab notebook during the lab.

More details about keeping a complete lab notebook are located in the following example and descrpition will be covered in lecture and at the beginning of the first lab section.

Again, your instructor will be concerned with the quality of the writing. If it is poor incomplete, your will be marked accordingly.

Scans of notebooks are due at midnight two days before your next lab and should be uploaded as a single PDF file to the dropbox

Producing a scanned notebook or prelab:

All assignments should be submitted as a SINGLE file, either a Mathematica notebook (.nb) or a PDF file (.pdf).  The contents of the  file must be legible and should be of reasonable size (generally less than a few MB).  Before uploading to the drop box, please make sure to
check your file after scanning to make sure it is complete and easy to  read.  It is not possible to delete a file that has been uploaded.  Two  suggested methods for scanning your notebooks are:

  • using the scanner in G230.  The easiest way is to place your  document on the scanner and hit the PDF button (after making sure the  omputer is on).  You can also double-click on the Canon Solutions Menu EX icon and click Start Application -> MP Navigator EX 4.0 -> PDF.  Note that the top of the page to be scanned should be closest to you on the scanner.  Otherwise your pages will be upside down.  Once you have scanned the files, you can copy them to a USB stick or use Firefox to email them to yourself or upload to the drop box.
  • using your phone to scan.  One iPhone and Android option is GeniusScan, available at  You can easily find  other options as well.  When using your phone, make sure to have good  lighting and have the phone parallel to the paper to avoid parallax effects. Generally, scanning software will allow you to combine scans of individual pages into a single document (the scanning software in G230  and GeniusScan both do).  However, if you find that you need to combine  individual files to make a single PDF, there is software for that as  well.  Two examples of online tools are:
  • If you are running MacOSX, you can combine files in Preview as
  • documented here:

You are encouraged to work with your partner in carrying out and analyzing the experiment, but the notebooks and writeups should be conducted independently, and each partner is expected to work through and understand all aspects of the experiment.