Lab Notebook Guidelines for Graduate Research

Your lab notebooks will be critical for completing your graduate research, but there are some issues that come up with how these notebooks should be created and who retains ownership of the notebooks once a student leaves a lab group. You will want to familiarize yourself with these guidelines before you begin your graduate work.

Ownership of the Lab Notebooks

While you are the person doing the research, you may not be able to take your laboratory notebooks with you. Depending on your university’s rules, the notebooks could be the property of the school, which means that you won’t be able to take them with you. While this can be devastating to learn at the last minute, knowing this information ahead of time means that you can prepare yourself to part with these journals of your work. 

Correcting Your Work

You may find that you have made a mistake in your research, or you feel that your work is too sloppy to read. You won’t be able to remove these pages from your lab notebook, as missing pages can invalidate your work. You can, however, draw a line through the data that you will be rewriting. Make sure that you only draw a single line, so the work that you are no longer using is still visible.

Keeping accurate records and making sure you know who has ownership of your work is part of being a successful graduate student. Make sure that you understand how to create a valid notebook, and familiarize yourself with your schools rules regarding ownership of research data.