• Is the abstract really an abstract? Are the conclusions really conclusions?
  • Are the sections titled properly? For example in an experiment that looks at the Franck-Hertz experiment using an oscilloscope, it is quite inappropriate to title a section “The Oscilloscope“. The measuring apparatus is simply a tool that reveals the ionization curve of mercury in the Franck-Hertz tube. Yes, if you are performing on an experiment aimed at understanding the lock-in amplifier, sections titled “Working Principle of a Lockin amplifier” is quite apt.
  • Avoid shopping lists of apparatus and equipment. The apparatus you use must be seamlessly integrated into the main text.
  • Avoid reproducing text and figures from the laboratory manuals.
  • Be consistent in capitalization. Avoid excessive capitalization: “the cathode” instead of “the Cathode” should be preferred.
  • Don’t copy-paste the figures churned out by Matlab. They have to be pruned, the fonts adjusted, the sizing has to make the axes and the labels readable, unwanted legent boxes showing “data 6“, “data 7” don’t mean anything. Gain familiarity with a nice graphics software. Our choice is Adobe Illustrator. You are free to choose your own.
  • All symbols and figures should be in LaTeX’s math mode. Units are preferred outside the math mode.
  • Appropriate paragraphing is important. Each paragraph should start, in many cases, with a topic sentence. At the end of every paragraph, I should expect what to find next. This interwoven theme should be made clear at the very beginning. In short, don’t make the report feel like a hop-on, hop-off route in a labyrinth, rather it should come out as one, logically consistent, unified thematic journey through the experiment.
  • Only relevant theory must be discussed.
  • Of course, grammar and style also matters. No need to be overly verbose, simple, succinct, short sentences are effective.
  • Avoid using imperative tense and the second pronoun (“you will lift a beaker“), rather passive voice ans past tense (“the beaker was placed“).
  • Use proper sentences. Each sentence ends with a full stop. An equation is a part of a sentence. All sentences must end.
  • Avoid starting sentences with “and”, “now”, “also”, “then”, with symbols and numerals (1,2,565,-3, E, Vi) etc.

* What are we specially looking for:

  • Does the report intelligently choose the kinds of graphs that reveal underlying physical patterns. Are the variables correctly chosen? Are the scales appropriate? Do we have close-ups of regions that show some salient features, such as kinks, transitions, or other forms that are not visible in zoomed out views.
  • Are similar graphs strung together as sub-figures or are they spattered as distinct graphs with their individual numberings.
  • Is there sufficient level of cross-referencing and linking of graphs and tables.
  • I am not interested in an uninteresting account of the procedure regurgitated from the manual, rather a concise description of the procedure interwoven with insight, discussions, suggestions and interpretations. This is by far the most important thing that I am looking for.
  • Is the bibliography uniform? Are the citation schemes the same or different across the various references.
  • Are the experimental parameters clearly stated?
  • Are there sufficiently neat schematic illustrations that aid the readability of the text?