How to Choose the Best Laboratory Notebook

Typically, it takes eight years of college education to earn a Pharmacy degree and become a pharmacist. A lab notebook is the first place you record the progress of your research activities from procedures to observation. It is the most valuable item for any researcher. Essentially, a lab notebook is the main working document that contains data, hypothesis, interpretations, experimental set ups, calculations, evaluation, and analysis.

Choosing a Laboratory Notebook

The rule of the thumb is choosing a book labeled as a laboratory notebook. A bound lab notebook that is square fits most purposes. Sometimes a teaching lab may specifically require tear out duplicate pages which are used to make carbon copies. Most industrial or engineering labs require a specific notebook that has numbered pages, dates, and a slot for supervisor’s signatures.

Notebook Preparation

Always use a ball point pen for all entries to ensure that the entries are not erasable, and also to ensure that they do not smear. Write down your name, phone number, address, and project name on the front cover. Repeat the same information inside the first page.

What to Enter

Always enter all procedures and date into your notebook directly and in a timely manner. This basically means that you should enter all information while doing the actual work. Ensure that you detail entries sufficiently such that anybody can use the notebook as a guide. A significant number of students fail to detail and organize the information well. Everybody should be able to use your notebook to conduct laboratory procedures.

Laboratory notebook entries that are arranged chronologically and signed by supervisor qualify as legally valid record. These records come in handy if you want to patent your discoveries.

Typically, you should only use your lab notebook to enter lab notes only. However, students can record lecture notes, research notes, questions, and ideas. Usually, you are supposed to enter information in a laboratory note book that you would add in a research paper. Published articles may not mention the machines used. However, it’s important to note such information in the experiment for troubleshooting purposes.

Electronic Laboratory Notebook

An electronic laboratory notebook is a digital lab notebook. It’s used to record and store experimental results. Unlike traditional lab notebook, you can easily access, analyze, and share data in ways that paper can’t do. It features a sophisticated software notebook that allows you to integrate crucial experimental information into a single digital space.

Both electronic and traditional laboratory notebooks have similar functions. However, electronic laboratory notebook allow you to search information across all experiments, use it for subsequent experiments, and share the information selectively. Therefore, there is no need to print results.

One drawback about traditional laboratory notebooks is possible damage and poor handwriting which makes it hard to follow procedures and results of past experiments. Electronic notebooks eliminate these problems.

However, you should take good care of your electronic laboratory notebook. Ensure it is always secure. Know who can access the notebook and let them know where it is stored. These measures protect your work integrity, lab work, and intellectual property.

A scientific lab notebook provides you with a place to store all your raw data, analyzed results, and procedures in one place. Note that there is a wide variety of electronic lab notebooks. Therefore, researchers should carefully evaluate the quality of each and choose one that meet their needs. Good electronic laboratory notebooks are integrated with researcher’s database. It also provides them with complementary expertise.

Lack of digital records significantly contributes to data loss. Loss of information and mismanagement leads to setbacks and delays in research. The good news is that electronic lab experiments provides experiment results easily and make searching experiment data a breeze.

An electronic lab notebook is more reliable for recording data and procedures. It stores all changes in software. Analyzed results can be stored alongside raw data for easy comparison and to follow how the researcher arrived at the conclusion. With technology advancements research experiments are now more complex. The storage, recording and sharing method should match the technical advancements. If you want to move forward in line with the technology age, you should definitely use electronic laboratory notebooks.