Monthly Archives: June 2019

The Importance of a Laboratory Notebook

lab notebooks

Lab notebooks? You have probably heard about them, right? If you have been conducting laboratory tests regularly, you have already realized that you could forget many discoveries and procedures without proper organization. Lab notebooks will play a vital role in organizing your life as a lab technician. The following are benefits of using lab notebooks.

1. Record Your Data

This is so obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that a lab notebook is a convenient place to record your data. In laboratory experiments, you will probably do thousands of procedures. Everything becomes chaotic around you, and you could be in serious danger of forgetting what you are doing. With lab notebooks, everything will be kept in check. You will be able to record all the necessary information around you. Your data will be kept safe, and you will remain in control of your business.

2. To Do List

In a laboratory, there are several procedures that you need to follow for an experiment to be successful. However, these procedures are very many, and most of the times they keep on changing depending on the experiment. A laboratory notebook will detail all the things that you need to do after entering the research room so that you can be successful. The notebook could be important, especially where there are innumerable tasks to carry out. Having a guide of what needs to be done and then creates a good course of action and helps in avoiding trouble.

3. Protocols

Every science experiment has everything to do with protocols. You cannot achieve reliable or authentic scientific results without following a laid down procedure. Each experiment has its protocol, and it’s difficult to substitute one protocol for another. If you are preparing to have an experiment in the future, you can have its protocol already lined up in your scientific lab notebook. If you need to repeat any experiment, you will only need to refer back to your notebook.

4. A Reference for Others

In most cases, scientific research is carried out by teams. However, some of the members are not conversant with scientific studies, and they highly depend on the guidance that comes from the experienced researchers. With a scientific notebook, other members can reference for important data, details, and protocols. You don’t have to keep answering hundreds of questions from amateur researchers. Just direct them to your notebook and the entire research will move smoothly towards its objectives.

5. To Support Future Publications

You may need to publish lab results, papers, patents, and findings of a particular research study. However, you need to justify and show evidence that you own the results before publishing. Without documented evidence, you cannot justify that the results you are likely to publish belong to you, and therefore, you’ll not have any merit. A notebook is, therefore, one of the most important books, especially to the researchers, who have the intentions of publishing their findings in the future.

6. Data Audit Trail

An experiment is characterized by hundreds of errors that need to be adjusted as the process continues. However, for the sake of data security, any changes made to the data need to be noted and highlighted on the notebook. This gives other team members a clue of what is happening and why you have changed data. Data integrity is an essential aspect of any scientific research.

7. Record Ideas

Besides everything that has to do with research and planning the experiment, you will also come up with your ideas. These thoughts are very useful in future as they could help make the experiment better. You need to make sure that you record them somewhere. Lab notebooks are the most secure area where you can record such ideas and harness them to find out whether they are beneficial in any way.

Current trends indicate that the pharmaceutical market will reach $1.12 trillion by 2022. However, before that time and figure are reached, thousands of experiments will have to be done to improve the drugs currently available in the market and the best area to record those experiments is on a lab notebook.

How to Safely Write on Archival Photographs

archival materials

Did you know that China, Japan, and the United States are responsible for over 50% of the paper being used globally?

When sorting or putting away photographs in archival materials, it can be tempting to scribble down notes directly onto the back of photos as you go through them.

And while you can do this, it’s only wise if you’re using the right kind of writing tool. (And, ideally, you really shouldn’t write on photographs, period.)

To learn how to write on photographs without damaging them, read on for four tips on writing on photos for archival purposes.

1. Do NOT Use a Standard Ball-Point Pen

Photographic evidence or documentation can have enough trouble staying intact during its lifetime in archival materials—especially if the photos are old. Honestly, photographs usually aren’t that sturdy. So it’s best not to add to its instability by writing on it with a standard ball-point pen.

While it’s perfectly appropriate to label photos with important relevant information, you should never do so with a ball-point pen. This is because the kinds of ink used in ball-point pens tends to smear on photographic surfaces, defeating the purpose of writing with them in the first place. Additionally, the non-archival oils and solvents used in the cheap ink can cause the ink to bleed through the photo paper to the front.

Obviously, it’s also unwise to use most kinds of markers, as they can smear, as well.

2. DO Use a Pencil

Instead of traditional ball-point pens, professional archivists often use soft #2 pencils to write on the back of fiber-based photographic prints.

Note that this applies to fiber-based prints specifically—results of a method no longer in use everywhere. More modern plastic- or resin-based prints have a shiny, slippery back to them, which can’t be written on effectively with a pencil. But for older photographs, using a pencil works well, and is commonly recommended.

One reason to use a pencil for fiber-based photos is that writing in pencil is easily erasable. Besides that, pencil leads are relatively inert—they contain none of the oils in ink pens that can ruin photographs.

However, even when using pencils, it’s necessary to use a very light touch when writing on the back of an important photo for archival materials. Pressing too hard can cause considerable damage to the photograph.

3. Use a Stabilo-All Pencil

Stabilo-All pencils are specially-designed for archival materials. They are water-soluble, and they can be wiped off of practically any smooth surface with a wet cloth. They are also highly erasable on paper.

Best of all, they allow you to write clearly on many surfaces typically resistant to writing, including modern photographs, film negatives, and even glass and metal.

Stabilo-All pencils come in three colors—black, red, and white—so you’ll always have one for any colored surface.

4. If Possible, DON’T Write on Photographs

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do. For some purpose or another, whether you’re a student or a laboratory researcher, there may be times when you need to write legibly on a photograph.

But in a best-case scenario, you should use other archival materials to avoid writing on photos altogether.

Some materials you can use instead of writing on photos are photo sleeves, bound lab notebooks, index cards and boxes, and acid-free envelopes.

As another quick tip, you should always write on the envelope, sleeve, or card before inserting the photo—just to be sure you avoid damaging the print.