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Skills development for science students everywhere

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Why do impure solids melt at lower temperatures?

A melting point is a characteristic physical property of a substance. So melting point analysis is one of the simplest and most useful techniques for identification of a chemical substance. Melting point depression Melting point (m.p.) analysis can also provide information

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Student’s t-Test – a significant difference?

The ambition is that this article should be self-contained. However some concepts, such as standard deviation, are discussed in more detail in the previous article. What is a significance test? You’ve reached the point towards the end of a lab

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How to interpret a flame test

Flame tests are a very easy way to distinguish between ionic metal salts. Learning how to interpret their results is an important skill for chemistry students.  When energy is applied (in this case from the flame) electrons in the metal

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Guide to recrystallisation

Recrystallisation is one of the most common techniques used in chemistry to purify a compound. Choosing your solvent When conducting a recrystallisation it is very important that you select the correct solvent. If you are following a procedure, it will

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Writing your first literature review

Writing your first literature review can be daunting, and getting started is often the hardest part. This article explains how to approach your first literature review and gives some tips on what to include and what to avoid. If you’re

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All about errors

So you’re working on your physical lab write-up, and looking for the most marks possible. But you just can’t seem to get your head around those pesky errors. Well, this article is a simple guide to the analysis of uncertainties

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Citations, refs and bibliographies

Recently, a student told me that scientific writing for reports and literature reviews was the hardest part of the course, especially for non-native English speakers. For undergrads and postgrads alike, getting your citations and bibliographies formatted correctly seems to be

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Guide to creating great academic posters

Bad posters can be bad in many ways, but good academic posters have a few things in common. For instance, using arrows is a great way to help guide the reader’s eye around the poster, linking key points. So if

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How to calculate a solution concentration

Calculating solution concentration is something undergraduates can find confusing and frustrating. We’ve all been there when asked to make a solution of some compound to a specific concentration. We usually begin by collecting numbers from random places, then try fitting

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