Appendix I

The Formal Report

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Lab Contents



The results section contains the calculations, graphs and any other analysis that is performed on the Data of this experiment to reach the stated Objective of the Formal Report. Sets of results are tabulated with an attached sample calculation.

A sample calculation is shown for each type of calculation performed in the analysis. The sample calculation starts from one equation defined and derived in the Introduction. A particular trial is selected from the data and the values are substituted with units into this equation. A sample calculation also shows the calculation of the uncertainty.

The sample calculation shows the process (algorithm) used to determine the results. It is assumed that all other values calculated with this equation are processed in the same way as the sample calculation (and therefore a sample calculation for each trial is not shown).

PhysLab Specifications

Calculations: A sample calculation is required for each equation used. Results for all trials must be neatly tabulated, including units and calculated uncertainties. All trials are converted to results and plotted if a graph is used. The '2 sig fig uncertainty rule' must be followed for final and tabulated results. The Physics lab supervisor may reduce the number a trials in the analysis to be presented.

Graphs: Graphs must be properly scaled, labelled and drawn. All graphs have a descriptive title. All symbols on the graph must be defined on the graph such that the graph can be understood without referring to the report text.  Computer generated graphs are not permitted for the first year formal reports. The Physics lab requires that slopes of the best and worst fit lines must be calculated on the graph. Other relevant equations and calculations may also be shown on the graph.

Results Expected Practice

Calculations:  The columns of tables are traditionally labelled with or include the variable (symbol) used in the equations of the sample calculation. The equation of the sample calculation, together with its variables, are defined in the Introduction. Consistency maintained in the symbols and equations used from the Introduction through the Data, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion sections. This greatly enhances clarity.

The calculation section does not contain manipulations of equations or derivations of equations. That work was done in the Introduction. Unless there is a pressing need to describe what is going on, there is seldom any narration in this section. Sufficient detail is expected in the sample calculations that the reader can unambiguously duplicate your calculation.

All trials are included in the analysis. Under exceptional circumstances, some trials may be noted as erroneous and 'discarded' from consideration, But this is very exceptional, and a very good argument must be provided to justify this in the results section.

Tables: Table headings usually have symbols (or include symbols) for the column headings, and these symbols match those defined in the Introduction. Index fields are used between matching tables. The index chosen is usually an independent data value. Uncertainties that are common to all elements of a column are placed in the column header. Units are usually placed in the column header. Uncertainties for columns that are to be used as axes of graphs are in quoted absolute form.

Graphs: A graph of the original data is usually included. The scale and origin of graphs are chosen so that the data fills more than ½ the graph. Care is taken in deciding whether the origin is a 'special point' (such as if it has an uncertainty). Plot points are distinctly marked, and uncertainties are traditionally indicated with error bars. An error bar is shown as solid lines extending the range of the uncertainty.