How some students plot data

Ploughing through more lab reports today, I have been struck by something…………

If I were doing an experiment on, say, chemical kinetics, I can imagine producing a graph like this:

mygraphIn the text or in the figure caption, I would refer to the data shown in this graph as a plot of concentration versus time. But, very often, I get graphs like this:

student graphApart from the ugliness of the graph, the lack of units on the axes and the determination to ram a straight line through the data, there is this strange tendency (at least to me) these days to describe any plot as one of the independent variable versus the dependent variable. I suppose it is a matter of taste but it seems a strange way of doing things.

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About Greg Foley

A lecturer in Biotechnology in Dublin City University for more than 25 years. Trained as a Chemical Engineer in UCD (BE and PhD) and Cornell (MS). Does research on analysis and design of membrane filtration systems.
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3 Responses to How some students plot data

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » How some students plot data

  2. I think plotting ANY line of best fit is inferring a relationship between the independent data and that on the y-axis. As such I think you should provide some information on the properties of that fit, and ideally (in the accompanying text) some reference to a physical justification for such a relationship. I assume from the graph that this would be some sort of exponential relationship?

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