Dos and Don’ts of Laboratory Notebooks

In order to make sure that all of your research and experiments are legally valid, you will need to use laboratory notebooks throughout the course of your work. While it may seem like a simple idea, recording your ideas requires discipline and strict adherence to very specific rules. Here are some of the most important dos and don’ts of lab notebooks:

Don’t use scratch paper during the course of research. Your notebook should show all of your work, figures and calculations, so always be sure to put even the tiniest piece of information in your notebook.

Don’t tear out pages from your books. It may be tempting to tear out a piece for a course of work that went off-track, but removing pages can cause serious legal headaches, down the road, if you ever need to defend your work in court.

Do make sure to record everything you do in the course of your research. The more detailed your work is, the easier it will be to write up your conclusions after the project is complete.

Do use an official lab notebook. Loose-leaf paper and traditional notebooks won’t have as much legal standing when presented in court; plus, they give your work a more professional look when presenting them for peer review.

Laboratory notebooks are the researcher’s best friend. These handy tools give you a place to show all of your experiments, mathematical calculations, and research in a professional manner. Filling them out properly can help you ensure your ideas are protected and respected by your research community.