Writing my first lab report
I am currently working on my first of the three lab reports for this year. I have chosen a physical chemistry experiment because it is one of the hardest branches of chemistry (I think) hence dedicating my vacation to working on this report seems sensible. I am writing on the Harcourt Essen reaction that I did.
It has been amazing to learn how long it takes to write a report. It takes time to understand the chemistry behind the experiment, finding relevant research papers/ books to support your writing, using results to produce graphs, deciding what to include in each of the sections and most importantly — begin writing!
I am heavily using OneNote to organise my thoughts with different pages for the different sections of the report such as the abstract and introduction. This allows me to quickly make organised notes/ jot down any thoughts and then develop them into paragraphs and ultimately a report (hopefully).
I am using Mendeley to organise my references and am absolutely loving it. It is very simple to use. The only difficulty is that the Harcourt Essen reaction is a very old reaction hence there are not many research papers discussing the science behind the reaction. I have managed to dig around a few articles (precisely seven), using the Journal of Chemical Education, that I shall read before looking for more. Also, on the library website, there is a scheme called SCONUL that allows you to visit libraries at other participating institutions. I am planning to visit Brunel later this week to find books for my write-up because it is a 30 min journey from home.
Being a mac user, another thing I’ve had to do is download virtualisation software to use Origin on my laptop (for graphs). Luckily, I have a school friend who is a tech expert therefore this was not much of a challenge since he effectively did it for me (we shared screens — somehow. Really don’t know how that worked).
This week is dedicated to only my lab report and no other work. The previous two weeks were a mix of revision and trying to do the graphs for my report. I have done revision (won’t discuss how much), done most of my notes and reading, and now need to do a lot of exam questions which I shall do next week. The aim is to finish the lab report by the end of the week since it is now time to begin typing and do extra research alongside.
I should have been able to do a lot more but when it comes to vacations, I cannot help not reading a little or working on my next piece of poetry. But that is always vacations for me — staring at my pile of books and paper, stressing and relaxing simultaneously and then doing everything when I know that wasting another moment would make it impossible for me to be able to complete my work on time.
So, to sum up, this is what my journey as a first year chemist, writing my first lab report for the year, looks like. Not the most organised process but not too bad, where, although I’ve been missing the Chai Latte from Curiositea, coffee has been my best buddy.
Feel free to comment if you have any questions!