Three Critical Mistakes People Make with Lab Notebooks

Laboratory notebooks serve to protect your ideas while helping you stay organized throughout your research. While they may seem pretty easy to use, many people make errors in their notebooks that can render their original ideas impossible to defend in court. Here are three mistakes to avoid:

Tearing Out Pages

If your notebook is missing pages, someone could argue in court that the missing pages contain proof that the ideas in your research are not your own. Never remove pages from your book. Your lab notebook will be your proof of work for years to come, so treat it like the legal document it is and preserve its authenticity. 

Crossing Out Mistakes

All of your notes are critical, not just the ones that prove your ideas are successful. Always leave everything in your laboratory notebooks—even the mistakes. Sometimes, you can see the right path to take based on your failures, which makes keeping track of mistakes all the more important.

Using Scratch Paper

Sure, scratch paper is useful for figuring out a quick formula, but the point of your notebook is to show all your work. This is why you should put all your math in the book, even if it’s a simple addition problem. Don’t be worried that someone will judge your work based on your math problems. They will just be jealous they didn’t come up with your idea first.

Now that you know the three biggest mistakes to avoid, you can keep your lab book meticulously; so all your research will be valid and accurate.