How to Keep a Lab Journal/Notebook
Why are journals and log books are used by researchers and writers in almost every field?
A quick look at samples from the over 13,000 pages recorded (often in reverse, mirror-image cursive) by Leonardo Da Vinci shows the range of materials that can appear in a notebook - and the ways in which such notes can later be referenced to track a project or idea. A good journal or lab notebook becomes a historical reference for projects and can help shape future research.
No matter what size project you are working on, you want to make a habit of keeping good records. If treated properly and used diligently, a lab notebook can make a big difference in the process of putting together a final project, a report, or a presentation on results.
When you sit down to write up your project, it will be much easier and less time-consuming if you have thorough and detailed notes of every stage of the process rather than relying on your "memory" of what happened at various points along the way.
Every project differs, so how you approach setting up your book will have a lot to do with your specific project, what kinds of lab-testing you are doing, how many trials you are running, how frequently you measure and collect your data, and even what kinds of background research you are conducting.
There are, however, tried and true practices that can make a difference in how useful your lab notebook is when you get ready to right up your project.
Read on to find tips and tricks for using and keeping a lab notebook put together by teams of scientists at Science Buddies.
Picking a notebook:
When and what to write in your notebook: