The Formal Laboratory Report
The report you turn in after completion of each series of experiments is the main product of the team's work which will be used for grading. Therefore you should devote enough attention to this final but critical step in the laboratory experience. Writing good technical reports is a valuable skill, which in the future will help advance your professional career.
The purpose of the laboratory report is to provide information on the measurement procedures, the experimental results and their analysis, as well as interpretation and discussion. The discussion and conclusions are very important parts in a report as they show what knowledge you gained by doing the experiments.
There is no one best format for all technical reports but there are a few simple rules concerning technical presentations which should be followed. Adapted to this laboratory they may be summarized in the following recommended report format:
- Cover page
- Experimental Procedure
- Experimental Data
Detailed descriptions of these items are given below.
- Cover page should have the names of the team members, and a designation such as Group 3, if the groups are numbered. It should also contain the number and the title of the experiments. Cover page should also have the date of the report delivery, not the due date.
- Introduction should contain a brief statement in which you state the objectives, or goals of the experiments. It should also help guide the reader through the report by stating, for example, that experiments were done with three different circuits or consisted of two parts etc. or that additional calculations or data sheets can be found in the appendix.
- Procedure describes the experimental setup and how the measurements were made. Include here circuit schematics with the values of components. Mention the instruments used, their settings and describe any special measurement procedure that was used.
- Experimental Data section should be presented clearly with references to the procedure and schematic used in measurements. Include data tables with titles identifying the measurements and column headings with symbol of measured quantities and the units. Extensive tables can be put in an appendix while the main form of data presentation in this laboratory are graphs, with proper captions and labels. This section may also include some calculations or data analysis, for example trend lines fitted to the data points.
- Discussion is a critical part of the report which testifies to the student's understanding of the experiments and its purpose. In this part of the report you should include analysis of the data, deriving of parameters (for example the saturation current and ideality factor of a diode) and comparison of the experimental results with a theory or simulations.
- Conclusions should contain short statements closing the report. State if the results of the experiment are reasonable and in agreement with the theory. If there were differences between measured and expected results, can they be attributed to the precision of the instruments used or the experimental procedure? You may also say what could have been done differently, how experiments may be improved, or make other comments on the laboratory. Constructive and original statements are highly valued.
THE REPORT FORMAT
In this third electrical engineering laboratory the students are expected to provide professional quality report in the form that will be soon expected from them in the "real world". Below is a short list of important rules that should be checked before submitting a report.
- Cover page should be complete with the experiment title, students' names and the dates of the experiments.
- Number all pages except the title page.
- Number all tables. The number and the table title should be above the table. Each column should have name or a symbol and the units of the listed values. For example: "Table 1 Drain current vs. gate voltage for VDS = 3 V"
- Number all figures and tables in the order as they appear in the report text. All figures should have captions below the figure, with the figure number and the text describing its contents. For example: "Fig. 1 Circuit for measuring forward bias diode characteristic" or "Fig. 4 Reverse bias characteristic of 1N4001 diode with a linear trendline". Note that schematics, charts, or pictures of waveforms are all figures. Use reference to figure numbers in the text discussing the data.
- Pay special attention to graphs. Each axis must have a label (can be a symbol) showing what quantity it represents as well as units, for example: "ID [mA]". If this plot represents a MOSFET drain current as a function of drain voltage, the value of the gate voltage must be given on the graph or in the caption. If the graph shows three curves for different gate voltages, labels next to the curves or a legend with these voltages must be included.