Advice for Keeping a Scientific Lab Notebook

A very important part of working in a laboratory is keeping detailed records and notes. This is especially true for a student who is in the process of learning and may need extra information for studying purposes. This is where a scientific lab notebook comes in handy. Keeping your lab notebook orderly and making sure that you can make sense of its contents later will make your research and studies much easier over time. Below is some advice on choosing and keeping an orderly, detailed student lab notebook.

Look for Perforated Duplicate Pages

Tear-out duplicate pages make it easy for you to make an instant copy of your information and turn it in without losing the information from your notebook. When it comes to lab research you want to keep back-ups of your process and findings, because it will often be time-sensitive and detailed information that you may not be able to easily recreate.

Numbered Pages and a Table of Contents

While you can create a table of contents and number your pages on your own, it helps if you can find a notebook that already has this built in. It will save you time and will remove some of the possibility of error that comes with entering everything manually. Having a table of contents will make finding specific information easier later on, especially when studying.

Be Detailed and Write Legibly

When making entries in your notebook, try to write it as if someone else will be consulting it and using the information. There will be times when that may be the case, especially if you have a lab partner. However, it will make things easier for you as well. Thorough information and legible writing will make using your notebook for research purposes much less complicated both for you and anyone else who needs to look at it. Even the smallest details in your research process can make a difference, so don’t leave anything out.

Avoid Loose Papers

As a student you’re probably going to have other loose sheets of paper that pertain to your research. It’s best to avoid just sliding these into your notebook. Not only does it make it easier to lose them, but it can cause stress on the binding over time if you add to many pages. It’s better to keep loose pages in their own folder and make a note in an appropriate spot in your lab book that states where the sheets are.

Detail and Organization

In the end the most important parts of keeping a lab notebook are detail and organization. Having all of the information you need recorded in a way that makes it easy to access will make student like considerably less stressful for you. Consider the requirements your professor sets for you as well as your own personal preferences to pick the notebook that will work perfectly for you.