Guidelines for taking the lab course and evaluation criteria
An experiment takes two afternoons and is done by a group of students
(usually consisting of two students, but sometimes also three students or only one student).
Who is doing which experiment on which day is announced on the web pages of the lab course.
- All group members must join the on-line lab teleconference on each lab afternoon (Tuesdays).
The designated time per afternoon is 4.5 (full) hours.
The schedule is as follows:
If these criteria are not fulfilled, you did not pass the experiment (failed attempt).
In case of absence due to illness or some other justifiable reason,
the knowledge of the missing student will be evaluated at a later date
and the lab will have to be performed by the student at another time (then usually alone).
- 1st week: oral examination of the required background knowledge; experimental work.
- 2nd week: further oral examination, finishing experimental work (if necessary);
analysis of the data and discussion of the results with the supervisor.
- 3rd week: submission of the lab report to the respective supervisor (until Friday)
and starting the next experiment (Tuesday).
- Each experiment must be prepared and executed by all participants.
You need to demonstrate sufficient knowledge on each of the afternoons,
otherwise this counts as a partly (half) failed attempt.
- The lab report must be written as described under “lab report guidelines” below.
One report per team and experiment is sufficient.
All group members must certify by signing the lab report that they are familiar with its contents and agree with it.
In case of disagreement, any team member may hand in their own version of the lab report.
In this case, submission of the lab report will be also accepted in the 4th week of an experiment.
As soon as the lab report has been submitted, it cannot be changed anymore.
For reasons of equal treatment, the reports will be evaluated not before the end of the term.
If an essential part (including the questions and exercises) is missing,
the lab report will be considered insufficient (failed attempt).
The same is true if the report contains blatant errors in terms of understanding and results,
or if the report has been copied from another group from the same or a previous semester.
Illegible or sloppy reports are also considered insufficient (failed attempt).
Two partly failed attempts count as one failed attempt.
You can only pass the lab course after having performed
all assigned experiments with no failed attempt,
otherwise you will not receive a certificate!
(Cases A and B mainly concern individuals, case C the whole team).
The lab course can be repeated (as a whole) the next semester.
You then need to attend the introductory briefing again.
You must submit the last lab report one week after the last lab afternoon at the latest.
Certificates will be available from the secretaries’ office
no earlier than 1–2 weeks after that.
Lab report guidelines
The lab report is an essential part of the lab.
It should not just be an enumeration of results, but also briefly
summarize the whole experiment in a way that would allow a fellow physicist
to understand what you did and how and why you have done the experiment.
As a part of the lab, the report should demonstrate to the supervisor
that you have understood the experiment and its implications.
Do not just copy from the literature (however, you may cite if necessary).
Explain clearly and in your own words the most important points of the experiment.
Always elaborate on the logical framework of the experiment.
If your report contains more than 10 pages, check whether you have copied
too much from the instructions or from the literature, and see whether
it is possible to trim the text.
In case you have less than 4 pages, check whether you have explained enough.
(All page numbers without the measurement record.)
Before handing in, check the report for intelligibility and the following parts:
- What is the point of the experiment?
- Introduction to the theory behind the experiment.
- Description and explanation of the execution of the experiment.
- Original measurement record.
- Sketch of the experimental setup (if applicable).
- Citation and mentioning of all non-trivial equations used in the text.
- Numeric results with a sensible number of digits, including intermediary results.
- Discussion of errors; if applicable: error calculation.
- Thorough interpretation of the results.
In some cases it may be expedient to deviate from this scheme.
Please make sure on time that you have sufficient information for
doing and analyzing the experiments.
If in doubt, talk to your supervisor.