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Frequently Asked Questions About Lab and The Class

Please look over the following frequently asked questions. Use the search page feature to find information quickly (command F on macs, control alt F on PCs).

If you have a question that is not answered, please contact Dr. Mitchell Bruce, General Chemistry Coordinator at

Academic Integrity:

What does the student handbook say about academic integrity?


Academics – Academic Integrity

Academic honesty is very important. It is dishonest to cheat on exams, to copy term papers or to submit papers written by another person, to “fake” experimental results, or to copy parts of books or articles into your own papers without putting the copied material in quotation marks and clearly indicating its source.

Students committing or aiding any of these violations may be given failing grades for an assignment or for an entire course, at the discretion of the instructor. In addition to any academic action taken by an instructor, these violations are also subject to action under the University of Maine Student Conduct Code. The maximum possible sanction under the student conduct code is dismissal from the University.

Questions about the start of the term:

I already have an InterChemNet (ICN) code/account and/or a notebook from another semester. Do I have to purchase a new ICN access code and notebook?

Yes. ICN access is granted on a per course/semester basis. In general, if you register for the lab course, you need to obtain a new ICN code and a notebook. An exception is if you took an incomplete in lab and will be completing the lab course in the next semester. See Robert Kirk, laboratory manager (229 Aubert Hall)

When do general chemistry labs start?

The General Chemistry lab courses (CHY 123 and 124) start the first week of classes. However during the first week of classes, there will be online assignments that you will need to do. This involves creating your account and completing and submitting answers to a quiz. Students physically attend lab starting in the second week of classes.

I get an error when trying to activate my ICN account, what do I do?

If you are having issues with your ICN barcode, please contact

Are there recitations during the first week of classes?

Often yes. Please check with your instructor .

I was not able to make the first couple of labs, what can I do?

If you did able to complete the safety and policy quiz nor the first couple of labs, it will not be practical for you to make up this work. In this situation, you will need to drop the lab (CHY 123, 124, or 133), as well as class (CHY 121, 122, or 131). If there are extraordinary circumstances, you will need to obtain permission from your advisor as well as the Dean of your college.

Lab Reports Grading and Due Dates:

Are there due date for lab reports?

Yes, lab reports are generally due one week after completing your lab work. If you have any questions, ask your lab instructor. 

After the due date, lab reports are considered late for a period of two weeks. During the late period, labs up to one week late will have a maximum grade that is 75% of the maximum lab report grade, while labs submitted more than one week late but less than two weeks late will have a maximum grade that is 50% of the maximum lab report grade. 

For documented illnesses or other circumstances which prevent lab reports from being submitted, permission to extend lab report deadlines can only be obtained by contacting the lab manager or general chemistry coordinator. Agreements involving only a lab instructor are not generally considered valid. It is the students responsibility for contacting the lab manager or general chemistry coordinator.

Labs submitted after the past due period (usually three weeks after a lab has been completed) will be given a grade of zero and will not be graded. A student who fails to submit a lab report on time will still be eligible for the pre-lab and participation credit of the lab experiment. However, missing multiple lab report deadlines may result in grades of zeros being assessed for entire lab experiments.

Can I copy someone else’s work for material to use in my lab reports?

No, your lab report must reflect your own work and participation. In the case of working with a lab partner, your collected data may be jointly used. All analysis, calculations, and claims should be your own original work. The reason for using joint data should be clearly explained in the submitted lab report. In cases where you would like to use another student’s data to compare to your own data (never instead of), please identify the student(s) and clearly mark it as someone else’s data. In summary, in all cases, your written explanation, insight, and analysis should reflect your own thoughts and be in your own words. Failure to do this may be considered as evidence for plagiarism. Copying sections of text or portions of another lab report and submitting it as your own work can result in failure of the lab course.

Questions about retaking, dropping, or changing a class or laboratory section:

I am retaking the class. Do I need to retake the lab?

Students who have taken the general chemistry laboratory in the last four years and have gotten a grade of C- or better do not need to retake the lab if they retake the class.

I plan on dropping the class, can I stay in lab?

For safety reasons , when a student drops the class during the first 2/3 of the semester, we do not allow continuation in lab. However, if a student drops the class near the end of the semester (e.g. within one month) and are doing very well in lab, he/she can ask for permission to stay in lab. This is being done on a case by case basis. You can contact your TA, the lab manager (Robert Kirk), or lab coordinator (Mitchell Bruce) to start the process to ask permission to stay in lab.

If you drop lab, we can also offer to facilitate your completion of the lab when you retake the general chemistry class. If you have received six or more lab grades of at least 90%  you can request to be excused from these experiments when you take the course again. We will need to see all your graded lab reports and your lab notebook. Contact the lab manager, Robert (Bob) Kirk, at the beginning of the semester you retake the class and lab and he will be able to help you.

I am retaking the lab course. Can I be excused from any lab experiments when I retake the lab course?

If you have received six or more lab grades of at least 90%  you can request to be excused from these experiments when you take the course again. We will need to see all your graded lab reports and your lab notebook. Contact the lab manager, Robert (Bob) Kirk, at the beginning of the semester you retake the class and lab and he will be able to help you.

I want to change my lab section, what do I do?

It’s possible to change your lab section, since we offer a number of lab sections throughout the week. However, movement between sections depends on available space. Start by visiting the chemistry main office (154 Aubert Hall) and asking the administrative assistant if there are any openings in the section you’d like to move to. Robert (Bob) Kirk, the laboratory manager (229 Aubert Hall), can also sometimes help in changing sections, but only after you’ve first checked with the chemistry main office.

Questions about laboratory course safety:

Can I wear contact lenses in lab?

No, because it is not safe. In lab, there can be very low concentrations of chemical gases that normally are drawn out of the room by fans. At these low concentrations, the gases are safe. However, if you wear contact lenses, since they are (usually) gas permeable, the moist interface between the contact lens and your eye can become an area that concentrates the chemicals – leading to an unsafe condition. There are also additional reasons. For example, even though you wear protective goggles – there is always a chance that a chemical solvent can get into your eyes. If this happens when you are wearing contact lenses, they may prevent you from being able to safely wash the chemical out of your eyes. Hard contact lenses also have safety issues. Thus, our rule is based on safety considerations. Please wear your glasses in lab – it is really for your protection.

Where can I find out additional information about lab safety?

Visit the General Chemistry Website at and follow the link to Policies. You will find there a link to a pdf file that has additional information concerning safety.

Questions about missing labs, make-up labs, and arriving late:

What do I do if I need to leave early or arrive late for a lab? Can I just get data from my lab partner to finish my lab?

No. You are expected to complete the lab experiments yourself and be there the entire time. Even if you are asked to pair up and be part of a group, you are required to participate during the entire lab. Many times in lab, things don’t go as planned or are not as straight forward as you first thought. As a rule of thumb, if you miss more than 15 minutes of lab, you should plan to make up the lab at another time. See the FAQ section concerning making up a labs.

I missed or will miss a lab. How can I make it up?

1. Consult the schedule of times that laboratory meetings are held. You can find a link to the schedule as one of the menu items near the top and right of this page.

2. Make sure that you complete the pre-lab assignment and carefully read the procedure of the lab.

3. Making up a lab is not guaranteed. We suggest you find a day/time where you might be able to make up a lab. Show up early and ask the TA if you can make up the lab. If the lab is full, if the experiment students will be doing is different than the lab you want to make-up, or for a variety of other reasons, the TA may indicate that you will not be able to make up the lab that day. If that happens, the lab manager (Bob Kirk, 229 Aubert Hall) may be able to assist you.

4. Lab make-ups will also be possible right after Fall Break and before Thanksgiving Break. Look for the times on the homepage of ICN.

5. If you make up a lab, at the end of lab, obtain the make-up laboratory instructor’s signature on your lab notes.

6. Please hand in your laboratory notes to the make-up lab instructor. Your notes will be transferred to your regular lab instructor within a week.

7. Your lab report is submitted online as usual and will be graded by your lab instructor.

Can I always make-up a lab?

No. (a) Due to the large number of students enrolled in lab classes, a request to make up a lab during any given lab period is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of Bob Kirk and the lab instructor with whom you will make up your missed lab. (b) If you attempt to make up a lab two or more weeks after it has been given, you need to initiate a discussion with Bob Kirk well in advance of the lab period you will make up the lab. This is because you may have to help prep the lab (make up solutions or find equipment).

I’ve missed several labs, what will that do to my grade?

During the course of a semester, students are assigned 10 or more lab experiments and/or assignments. If any student fails to complete three or more of these assignments, he or she will not pass the course. Completion of a lab experiment includes preparing for lab (pre-lab work), attending the lab (handing in lab notebook pages at the end of experiment), and submitting a lab report or assignment, if required, in a timely manner. Failure to submit a lab report, in a timely manner, may result in a grade of zero points for that lab assignment. (updated 5-11-2017)

Questions about InterChemNet (ICN):

I am not able to download a procedure or submit a lab report. How can I fix this? 

There are a variety of reasons that can cause you to have difficultly in downloading lab procedures or submitting your lab reports. For example, if you have accepted too many labs but have yet to submit the lab reports online, you may not be able to accept a new lab. If you have a persistent problem, we recommend that you contact the laboratory manager immediately.

I’m having trouble viewing the film clips. What should I do?

This could be due to a broken link or your security settings on your computer may be set too high. If you are using Windows XP, before reporting a possible broken link, first try the following: go to Control Panel, SecurityCenter, Internet Options, Security, Default Levels, move the slider from High to Medium. Then try the movie again.

Questions about doing well in general chemistry:

I seem to learn differently than other people. Can I learn more about this?

 You can get feedback on your learning style by taking a simple learning styles quiz. The quiz is found on various sites on the internet. Here is a site that was active on September 15, 2011: Learning Styles.

How can I get off to a great start in chemistry?

Attend class, keep up with assignments, and find other students you can ask questions and study with. If Peer Led Teaming Learning is offered, participate. If electronic homework is used, use it to strengthen your understanding of course materials. If you have questions about class or lab, contact your instructors.

I think I am going to need extra help. What should I do?

Make sure to collect the contact information provided by your professor and laboratory course instructor at the beginning of the semester. Be sure to find out where their offices are and what times they are available for providing extra help to students. They also may be able to direct you to students that provide private or group tutoring.