A lab report will be required from each person for every lab. Do not hand in lab reports as a group. Each report should be written individually. Reports are due one week after final data results are collected.
1. Cover sheet - 1 Page Maximum
Include title of experiment(s), course number and title, name, group number, and submission date of report.
3. Discussion - ½ to 1½ pages, depending on the experiment
B. Reference your data sheets - If you are discussion the collection of data and you have that data recorded and attached to the report, reference that data when discussing it. For example: "Once the sieves were removed from the shaker, the weight of the material was obtained and recorded on the data sheet as shown on page 5".
B. Define terms as needed - Terms important to the test should be defined as needed. For example: "The first piece of data required to obtain a specific gravity of a material is its saturated surface dry (SSD) weight. SSD weight is the weight of an aggregate with all of its pores filled with water, but the surface of the aggregate is dry."
C. If a material is being tested, describe and give the source of the material - Provide the source and brief description of the sample(s) being tested. For example: "The sample used for this experiment was a fine aggregate which was obtained from the XYZ quarry in Bowling Green". If the source of the sample is unknown, simply indicate that the sample was provided by the instructor.
D. Reference specifications used in testing procedure - If the test requires a special step, or if the test requires a significant step that is another ASTM or other standard designation, indicate that. For example: "The Kentucky Method for coarse aggregate specific gravity testing states that a 4.5 kilogram representative sample must be obtained from the quarry. Once in the lab, this 4.5 kilogram sample must be reduced to an equally representative 1000 grams or more. The reduction of the sample was done with a sample splitter, which divides 1 sample into 2 equally representative smaller samples. The splitter was used until approximately 1000 grams of coarse aggregate was obtained."
E. Special equipment used should also be described or a picture attached - Some of the experiments require special equipment. Describe that equipment as best as you can, or use a photograph. The specification used will have a good description of the equipment already written, which you can quote or adjust to your needs.
F. If calculations are required, reference a sample of those calculations, if practical - Detailed calcs should be on data sheets in the appendix. Only include if the calcs are special or in any way add to the understanding of the report by the reader. If only simple algabraic calcs are done, then it is likely that no value is added by showing them.
G. Number all pages - You can hand number attachments as needed so you can reference them in the report.
H. Equipment limitations and/or possible sources of error should be discussed in this section.
4. Conclusions - ½ to 1½ pages
This is the most important section. State clearly and concisely the results of your experiment. For example, if the experiment was to determine the absorption of an aggregate, part of you conclusion should be "The absorption of the aggregate was 1.5%". You can tabulate data if a lot of information was obtained.
Also state any conclusions that you can draw based on your results. Critical results can be summarized in table form in the conclusion section. You may have to do a little research on your results to see what they mean and what conclusions can be drawn. For example, you find that an aggregate has a specific gravity of X. Does this tell you anything about the aggregate - good, bad, or otherwise. Do your best to draw some conclusion on your results. Be careful not to try to read to much into the results. I'm looking for you to research the test and draw accurate conclusions. Some tests simply give you a number and are not of much value unless combined with other tests.
5. Graphs, data sheets, and sample calculations
Attach these items after the text of the report. If many calcs were performed, a sample is all that is necessary.
Do not write your report in the first person (don't use I, we, me, our, etc.). Instead of "I found...", say "It was found...".
Assume the audience of this report is a professional client who has a technical background, but not a soils background. They will understand mathematical concepts, but specific soils terms, equipment, and calculations will have to be clarified for them. See specific labs for details on how to write each lab.
Reports are written after the experiment was completed, therefore, write in the past tense when describing what you did. When defining something, "is" is an appropriate word to use. For example: "In this experiment, the SSD weight was obtained. By definition, SSD is when an aggregates voids are full of water, but the surface is dry."
I want technically accurate content, not fluff. Some reports will be short, some will be longer. Do not go out of your way to try to make them long while at the same time do not leave information our to try to make them short.
Each person has their own individual writing style and 2 reports may read very differently, but both could be very good. I do not grade reports against a "Correct Report", I read and grade each one individually on its ability to convey the appropriate information.
You must use a word processor to prepare your reports. Minimize the use of fancy "bells and whistles" on your papers. Be professional in your presentation. Charts and graphs can be hand drawn in ink if necessary.
The first submittal of a lab report will be given back to you with comments and with or without a grade. If no grade is on the report, that means you have to re-write it and re-submit it one week from the date it was returned to you.
Hand in the marked up text portion of your original report with your re-write. Any charts, graphs, and data can be removed from the first report and resubmitted with your re-write. The marked up text portion of the report should be attached to the back of the re-submitted report.
Reports will be graded on a scale of 1 to 10. If rewrites are necessary, the maximum score for the rewrite will be something less than 10, typically a 9 unless otherwise indicated. 1 rewrite maximum will be allowed.
Key to comments on my graded reports:
P New paragraph
G Grammatical mistake
PS Poor sentence
RW Re-write section indicated