Considerations for Your Personal Research Notebook

Regardless of the subject matter you are researching, a well-maintained research notebook can be your most valuable tool. It gives you a place to organize your materials and thoughts, plus it gives you a place to track what you learn throughout the process. Your notebook helps coordinate your efforts and keeps the daily problem solving to a minimum. If you are still in doubt about the benefits of a lab notebook, read on.

Use a Notebook for Personal Goals

Without a place to record your ideas, they can be quickly lost or discarded. If you take the time to record the different ideas you find as you research, it is easier to see a pattern emerge. Thoughts begin to come together in a way that allows for the complete development of the paper or project. This may not occur if the seemingly random thoughts and ideas are not contained in one place where they can be reviewed.

A research journal allows the user to better organize all phases of the research. By recording source material and notes on progress, the information is forever at your fingertips. Neglecting to record these things can cause you to forget where you intended to go with a line of thinking or to forget what has been tested and accomplished. You can also track the attempts that resulted in negative outcomes.

When you start your personal research journal, you should include notes, references, experiment data, results, and any math problems you have used—regardless of whether or not you arrived at the correct answer. Even mistakes are useful when researching.

Your research notebook is your best tool when trying to complete a paper or research experiment. Be sure to use it properly so you have all the documentation you need for your final, published results.