GCCCD Acetaminophen Synthesis Lab Report

General Format for Written Lab ReportsThe ability to write technical information in a way that is clear to others is an important skill for any scientist.
Like any other skill, you can only acquire this by practice.
Submission requirements
 The full report (with all figures and structures) must always be turned in electronically via blackboard.
 All students must submit their own report, there are NO group reports.
 The file name should contain the experiment and your name. However, the file name should not be too
Academic Integrity:
 Academic Integrity is expected of all students: https://provost.asu.edu/academicintegrity
 Academic dishonesty will result in punishments varying from failing the assignment along with a
deduction of 50-100 points from your overall class score, failing the class, failing the class with the
score of “XE” (failure due to academic dishonesty), or even expulsion from the university:
 Make sure to cite all references (internet, lab manual, journal articles, books, etc.). Only credible sources
should be used for the report such as books, journals or your own lab packet or lab manual. Wikipedia,
About.com, ehow.com, buzzle.com etc. are not considered acceptable reference sources.
 It is allowed to directly quote a small portion of a reference, as long as you correctly use quotations
marks. However, large quoted sections will not be accepted and will result in a loss of points.
 If you obtained permission to use someone else’s data (e.g., because you were sick or the experiment
failed), then clearly indicate the source in your report.
 Your submission will be checked using “SafeAssign” for plagiarism, where you copied from other
sources and did not cite them, and also for SELF-PLAGIARISM, where you copy and paste something
that you wrote previously, for example, from a previous lab report. You are advised that you need to rewrite, revise and re-word content from your previous lab reports.
General Formatting:
 Your report must be typed and double spaced (except for the abstract).
 Each page must contain a page number.
 Organic structures, equations and mechanisms can be drawn using computer software, or, you can draw
them by hand then photograph and paste them into your report. In either case your images must be very
clear, very neat, legible, be straight, and should not have excessive white space around them. ONLY
high quality images will receive full credit. If you are unsure if your image is high quality, speak to your
TA before you turn it in. To paste an image into Microsoft Word use the “Insert Image” function that
usually generates a smaller file size compared to pasting from a graphics program in order to reduce
problems when it comes time to upload your report to Blackboard.
 The file you will upload must be in pdf format. You are responsible for making sure that your final
file size is less than 10 MB or you will not able to upload it onto Blackboard
 There are free versions of downloadable chemical structure drawing programs linked on blackboard.
 Figures of non-chemical structures (i.e. apparatus diagrams) may be taken from outside sources as long
as the source is clearly cited.
 All figures and structures must be properly labeled and described directly under the figure. For example,
Figure 1: reflux apparatus or Scheme 1: synthesis of 4-methylcyclohexene from 4-methylcyclohexanol.
 Do not use “I” or “we” or any other types of pronouns.
 Verb Tenses –
o When discussing information taken from the experiment after it is finished (Abstract, Procedure,
Data/Calculations, and parts of Discussion), use the past passive voice:
 The objective of the experiment was…
 The apparatus was placed…
o When discussing information that exists before, during, and after your experiment (Introduction and
parts of Discussion), you should use the present or future tense:
 The purpose of this report is…
 Distillation theory states…
General Advice:
Rather than providing detailed instructions for each lab report, we provide several example lab reports. Most
scientists learn to write scientifically by reading scientific writing, we are trying to give you the same
opportunity. Use the example lab reports to help structure your lab report and guide your writing. EACH
SECTION OF THE REPORT SHOULD STAND ALONE – the reader should never have to return to another
section to find results/values. Scientific writing is very repetitive, you tell the reader what you will tell them
(Abstract/Introduction), you tell them (Experimental/Results), and then you tell them what you told them
(Discussion/Conclusion). The page limit for each section is given. Follow the outline for each section and you
will have a well-structured lab report.
1) The title of the lab experiment (see sample reports for example titles)
2) Your Name
3) Your Lab Partner
4) Your TA
5) Your Lab time and day
6) Your Lab room number
7) The date
ABSTRACT (on cover page) – Write this section last! ~ past passive voice
Generally, an abstract is about a paragraph long (5-7 good, solid sentences) and single-spaced. It should briefly
summarize the purpose of the work reported, indicate the principal findings and point out major conclusions.
1) State what was done – State the learning objective or goal of the lab, i.e., what you are trying to do? (1
2) Identify the methods used – A summary of the major parts of the experiment, i.e. very briefly the procedural
tasks. (1-2 sentences)
3) Report the results – A summary of the major results from the experiment, i.e., what did you measure or do?
Use actual values/qualities. (2 sentences maximum)
INTRODUCTION – Tell the reader what you are going to tell them ~ present or future tense
This section includes everything you “knew” before you started the experiment and contains the “plan” to
complete it (no results or data!). An introduction should be one page max (EXCLUDING equations/figures) and
it should include at least three paragraphs. Use the lab packet background information to help guide this section.
1) Identify the research area – A summary of the overall objective of the lab, i.e., what are you trying to
accomplish by performing the experiment? If there is a chemical reaction, it should be introduced.
2) Provide essential background information for the reader to understand the experiment – A summary of how
the experiment works and the theoretical principles/background information for how the experiment or
technique works (very general). If techniques are included that you have not used before, then these must be
described and explained. Include synthetic, purification, and characterization techniques. Figures/diagrams
can be helpful.
3) Expected outcomes and a sentence leading into the report – A summary of what you expect the outcome to
be, what you expect to observe and what you expect to learn by making these measurements.
EXPERIMENTAL – Tell the reader what was done
This describes how the experiment was performed (past passive verb tense!) so that someone else could repeat
it and presumably get the same results. It should be written in paragraph form and be detailed enough that
anyone could repeat the experiment, but it should NOT be a repeat the detailed procedure given in the lab
package. The idea of an experimental section is that it is supposed to be “expert-to-expert”, which means that
you don’t have to say things like, “the experiment used roughly 150 mg of X and the exact weight measured was
145 mg”, instead you say “145 mg of X was added to Y…”. Experimental details should be concise and one
page MAX. See the experimental section of the example lab report that is posted on Blackboard as an example.
RESULTS – Tell the reader what the results were
It is difficult to specify exactly how long this section should be (~1 page max EXCLUDING tables/spectra)
since this is one part of the lab report that will be very different for different labs. In general this section should
contain all data related to all parts of experiments that you performed. Anything recorded in your lab notebook
goes in this section.
 Data can relate to the observations that you made.
 You will need to make TABLES that summarize the results. All data should be tabulated!
 Include any spectra taken (properly labeled!) or drawings of the results.
 This section summarizes the DATA ONLY, it does not include a discussion of what the data means, that
is part of the discussion, see the next section.
DISCUSSION – Tell the reader what you told them ~ past passive or present tense, depending on the topic
This is generally the longest section of any lab report (1.5 pages max, EXCLUDING equations/mechanisms,
etc). This section should contain a discussion of the results and the experiment. Here is where you describe what
you did, what you learned, and explain how you analyzed the data and observations and how you arrived at any
1) Restate the purpose of the experiment – Give the overall objective.
 If you are performing a reaction, show the equations and briefly discuss the reaction.
 If you are performing a reaction, give the MECHANISM and briefly discuss.
2) Discuss how the experiment was performed – why you did what you did, apply the background information
from the introduction to the experiment using specifics about the experiment and discuss if the experiment
turned out as planned in relationship to all methods. Also discuss any changes to the plan.
3) Discuss specific results – Restate the results (melting point, IR peaks, Rf values, percent yield) and interpret
them. Do this for EACH result. Explain how the data was analyzed and what conclusions were drawn and
why. Support your conclusions with theory!
4) Discuss sources of error – stating mechanical errors or human errors is not enough, discuss where you could
have gone wrong or where you actually did go wrong!
5) Summarize the work – A final summary of what you learned from the lab, the take-home message. Suggest
applications of the work.
CONCLUSION – Similar to the abstract
Generally, a conclusion is about a paragraph long (5-7 good, solid sentences).
1) A brief summary of the purpose of the experiment.
2) A brief summary of major parts of the experiment, i.e. very briefly summarize what you did. This should
only be 2 – 3 sentences maximum, no detail, the details were provided in earlier sections.
3) Briefly restate the results – give specific values (melting points, percent yield, etc).
4) A summary of what you learned from the experiment – was the experiment successful?
The majority of the information you need to write in the report will come from the lab package. Therefore, you
should include a citation to this lab package. If you get information from previous lab packages, then also cite
them appropriately. If you get information from any other source then you must cite these sources also.
References can be in one of several styles but you must be consistent. The most common are American
Chemical Society (http://chemistry.library.wisc.edu/writing/acs-style-guidelines.html#print-editions), and APA
Style (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/).

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