CHEM 481L - Physical Chemistry Lab

About the Kenan Science Library

The Kenan Science Library is on the ground floor of Venable Hall. The Science Library Annex which holds our books is located behind Wilson Library on South Rd. See our library page for locations and hours.

IT Response Center

The ITS Response Center is the first point of contact for IT Support at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Writing and Citing

Lab Notebook General Tips

Make your notebook as efficient and accurate as possible.  Some more common tips include:

*Use permanent ink.

*Initial and date every page.

*Leave a blank page or two in the beginning for a Table of Contents.

*Draw only a single line through all errors.

*Create a table of chemicals & relevant properties with each experiment.

*Record any equipment or software used to generate your data.

*Record what you have done.

*Record all observations and explanations of why they happened.

*Be descriptive with titles & headings.

*Start a new page for each experiment.

*At the end of each lab, ask yourself, "Can I recreate this experiment/my results with what I have written down?"

Adapted from "Organizing your lab notebook"

Resources required for class

  • Mathcad  (required)
  • Virtual Substance (required)
  • Excel or other spreadsheet software
  • Physical Chemistry, by Peter Atkins or other physical chemistry textbook
    • Online physical chemistry books through the library (ebooks)

Best practices for data management

Ten Simple Rules for Reproducible Computational Research

  1. For Every Result, Keep Track of How It Was Produced

  2. Avoid Manual Data Manipulation Steps

  3. Archive the Exact Versions of All External Programs Used

  4. Version Control All Custom Scripts

  5. Record All Intermediate Results, When Possible in Standardized Formats

  6. For Analyses That Include Randomness, Note Underlying Random Seeds

  7. Always Store Raw Data behind Plots

  8. Generate Hierarchical Analysis Output, Allowing Layers of Increasing Detail to Be Inspected

  9. Connect Textual Statements to Underlying Results

  10. Provide Public Access to Scripts, Runs, and Results

    Sandve GK, Nekrutenko A, Taylor J, Hovig E. Ten Simple Rules for Reproducible Computational Research. Bourne PE, ed. PLoS Computational Biology. 2013;9(10):e1003285. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003285.


Here are a few best practices when collecting and using data:

  1. Store and backup your data regularly:
    • to safeguard your research investment
    • to make it accessible in the future
  2. File naming and Spreadsheet Best Practices:
  3. Track Changes
    • use a sequential numbered system, e.g.  v01, v02.
    • don't use confusing labels, such as 'revision', 'final', 'final2', etc.
  4. Use standard file formats
    • use easily re-usable formats, e.g. .txt, .csv
  5. Document your data with a "read me" file which includes:
  6. Keep it secure

For more information on managing your data please see "Best Practices for Managing Research Data"


Excel Help

Recommended article databases

Project Resources

Project - Use current research to explore the use of computer models to enhance our understanding of important chemistry problems.

  • SciDAC - Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing
  • Last Updated: Nov 11, 2016 2:33 PM
  • URL: http://guides.lib.unc.edu/CHEM481L