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Khalid Alshamsi
Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering
CIVL4036- Highway Engineering
Laboratory Reports

As part of their essential skills, engineers are expected to have effective technical
communications skills that enable them to write project reports and proposals and to
communicate with others in their professional work environment. Hence, effective report
writing is given high importance in this course. Laboratory reports will form a major
contributor to your final grade. Careful attention should be given to preparing those
reports and presenting them in a neat professional way. This document is intended to
give you brief guidelines on the expected format of the laboratory reports.

There will be a number of groups per section each of which will submit a report
on the experimental work they will conduct during the semester.

Each group will elect a group leader who will be in charge of liaising between
group members and following up the work activities. He/She will be responsible
for the final revision of the submitted reports and will act as the contact person
with the course instructor. The election of the group leader should be done within
one week of group formulation and the name should be submitted to the course

You can perform your laboratory work during the scheduled laboratory sessions
or by appointment with the chief technician (Engineer Juma Al Rezaiqi). In both
cases, you need to inform Eng. Juma a minimum of 3 days to one week before the
time you are planning to start preparing for and conducting the laboratory tests.
Failure to show up at the scheduled appointment on time without a prior notice
will result in cancelling the session.

Rescheduling any appointment is not

guaranteed and will be subject to the availability of laboratory technicians and

free time slots in which the laboratory is not occupied by other

You are expected to perform all the necessary tasks to successfully conduct your
laboratory work. That includes the initial preparation for the experiments such as

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securing the material to be tested, setting up the equipment and making sure they
are in working condition, following the standard test procedure, taking
measurements, and cleaning up the work space and tools after finishing your lab

Safety shoes and lab coats are mandatory for admission to the laboratory

The laboratory assignment is formulated in a way that requires writing a

comprehensive technical report covering multiple laboratory experiments.

The report should cover the tasks assigned to you and should be written in a way
that summarizes the problem you are tackling, the methodology that you
followed, and the main findings you obtained.

Results and calculations should be clearly presented in details with appropriate

analysis. The report should be written in such a way that the reader will consider
it as a single comprehensive report describing activities related to the
characterization of road materials. It should have one abstract and one conclusion

Two reports should be submitted, a progress report and a final Report.

Submission Dates:
Progress Report: Monday of week 10 during the lecture time
Final Report: Wednesday of week 14 at or before 4:00 pm
Laboratory work will contribute 25% of your final grade in this course. The full score
is broken down into the following components:

Attendance and participation: 5%

Progress report: 5%

Final report: 15%

Dr. Khalid Alshamsi

The following sections describe some key requirements that should be
incorporated in your reports:

1- Title page: The title page should include the following information:
a. Name of the department
b. Course number and name
c. Laboratory assignment title
d. Submission date
e. Student name(s) and IDs
f. Group number and section number

2- Abstract: An abstract is a brief summary of the main facts and conclusions in the
report. It should be viewed as a stand-alone document that can be read and understood
independent of the rest of the report. This is because it is often read independently by
readers who want only a general idea of the reports content. The abstract must generally
include the following information in the following order:

The objective of the work conducted

A brief explanation of the methodology

A summary of Key findings (give numerical values, if applicable)

Abstract should be one paragraph in length. Abstracts should not:

Include extensive background material

Include conclusions which are not developed in the report

Cite references

Refer to any part of the report

Include figures, tables, equations, or footnotes

3- Table of contents: this section is self explanatory. The title page, abstract page,
table of contents, and appendices are not numbered with ordinal numbers (i.e. 1,2, etc.).
They are numbered separately, typically by roman numerals (i.e., i, ii, iii, iv)

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4- Methodology: This section covers the identification of the physical parameters to

be determined and the selection of the appropriate laboratory experiments to measure
them. Detailed process of material acquisition and testing should be included in this
section. It should contain the following sections for each experiment conducted

Test standard followed: Example AASHTO T193

Objective: a brief statement of the purpose or objectives of the experiment

Significance: This explains the importance and the application of the

parameters measured in this test

Apparatus: Describe all the equipment required for the experiment. Try
to provide detailed descriptions that would enable the reader to perform
the experiment described. a sketch or photo of the laboratory set-up is

Test specimen: Identify and specify the characteristics of materials used

in the experiment, including type of material, sample dimensions if
applicable, and unique features. A photo is often useful to describe the

Basic procedure: This may be written in paragraphs, or bullet format.

o Remember to use passive voice. Example: The load was applied,
NOT, I applied the load!
o Report activities that are key to the successful completion of the
lab, not ones that are default action of a laboratory activity
o Do not refer the reader to a laboratory handout for further
information; the reader may not have it.

Fully describe or

visually display all pertinent information. If you use figures, make

sure to number and caption them and label all significant parts.

5- Results and calculations: All of the data generated from the laboratory tests must
be reported in this section. Creating summary tables, plots, and figures to illustrate
comparisons among data is useful. DO NOT analyze, interpret, or explain any data.
Analysis and interpretation is done in the Analysis of results section. A set of sample
calculations, for each type of calculation performed, should be included if the

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calculations are repetitive in nature. If qualitative observations were made during the lab,
then the description of these observations is also considered a result and should be
included here.

6. Analysis of results: This is the section in which you will use your critical thinking
skills. You will now interpret, explain, and analyze the data. If you don't do this, the
reader might not see what you have found. Lecture notes, course textbook, other
textbooks, and local specifications are good references to determine if the experiment
results agree or disagree with anticipated results. Types of information in this section may
include: comparisons between expected and actual results or specifications, comparisons
between behavior of different materials (e.g., course and fine aggregates), description of
possible sources of error, and discussion of the limitations of the experiment.

7. Conclusions: In here, you will emphasize meeting the objective of the experiment
and list the key findings from your investigation. Make sure the conclusions are directly
related to the data collected.

8. References: Make sure that all of the references included at the end of the report
have been cited in the body of the report. Use a standard referencing style that you have
learned from your English technical writing courses.

General suggestions:
Use Third Person
In technical documents, such as laboratory reports, sentences need to be impersonal.
The reader knows that you (the lab group) have performed the described work; therefore,
you dont need to constantly appear as the subject in the sentences. What should appear
as the subjects of your sentences are the things you are studying.


Dr. Khalid Alshamsi

Not this: We found that the viscosity varied with changes in temperature.
But this: Viscosity varied with changes in temperature.

Use Passive Voice and Descriptive Verbs

Experiments require observations, so you should expect to use some verbs associated
with seeing. Responses are observed, seen, found, and shown, and values are
calculated, and determined. These are the things that you do, but because you do not
get to appear as the subjects of your sentences (see above), you must often use the
passive voice in order to maintain an impersonal stance while still recounting your work

Not this: We used Salt to change the density of water
But this: Salt was used to change the density of water.

Use Descriptive and Precise Modifiers

Technical documents must be written in a very precise way. Therefore, adjectives and
adverbs that are too general such as large, greater, and quickly are inappropriate.
Be sure to include numbers in your writing.

Not this: A small amount of aggregate was weighed out and was heated in the oven over
But this: A 250-gram sample of saturated surface dry Course aggregate was heated to
110oC for 12 hours.

Please note:

The use of computers (word processors and spread sheet software) in preparing
the reports is mandatory.

All pages must be numbered except the title page

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All figures must be numbered (e.g., Fig. 1) and captioned below the figure

All tables must be numbered (e.g., Table 1) and titled above the table

Times new roman font (size 12) with double spacing should be used in the main
text of the report

Any report submitted after the deadline will not be accepted and a score of zero
will be assigned to it.