Tag Archives: Lab Notebooks

Scanning Lab Notebooks Prevents Disaster

Traditional paper laboratory notebooks provide a convenient and versatile means for researchers and other laboratory professionals to document their work. However, paper notebooks can easily be lost or damaged. Scanning your lab books provides a needed backup that will ensure that important records are safe and accessible.

glove hand with lab equipment

Paper-based lab notebooks are here to stay. They’re far too convenient and versatile to ever be replaced by a digital medium. Also, the act of recording notes by hand has been shown to help humans in the retention of information—another great argument for keeping scientific notebooks in research labs.

Although paper notebooks will continue to be an important part of laboratory protocol, there is a place for digital technology in helping to record important information about experiments, studies, and other lab work. Scanning pages from research notebooks into a digital archive will help preserve the information within these critical records. Scanned copies also make reproducing and sharing processes, procedures, and observations from lab professionals easier.

Scientific notebooks are very helpful in the process of documenting research and experience, but they are vulnerable to any number of disasters. They can be lost in transit from one location to another. They can be stolen. They can be damaged and rendered illegible by chemical spills. They can be destroyed in fires or natural disasters.

Loss of the important information contained in these notebooks is an unacceptable risk for research organizations and labs. Millions of dollars may be lost if research organizations do not keep thorough documentation of their work.

Scientific notebooks often play a critical role in the patent process and in legal challenges regarding patents and intellectual property. A properly maintained scientific notebook can provide critical evidence documenting the progression and timing of research and development.

These notebooks also play an important role in allowing researchers see how other researchers arrived at conclusions, allowing them to build upon the work of those who’ve gone before them. Scanning notebooks eliminates this risk.

Modern scanning equipment can create accurate, crystal-clear images of lab notebook pages in full color. These images are typically saved in a document management system that makes accessing needed information convenient. Many have full-text searches that allow data managers to quickly find relevant pages.

Lab staff can scan pages in themselves or turn the responsibility over to a reliable professional scanning operation. Professional scanners can ensure the integrity of the original notebooks are maintained, and that all digital copies of notebook pages are of good quality and are properly saved.

Lab notebooks

Laboratories should make scanning scientific notebooks a key component of their disaster recovery and compliance policies. This digital technology can ensure that lab notebooks that can provide important insight of how discoveries are made or offer important evidence for court cases or patent applications are never lost, making it a worthwhile investment.

SNCO manufactures top-quality laboratory notebooks, patent notebooks, engineering notebooks, and related materials. Founded in 1959, SNCO has provided a durable medium of documentation for generations of the nation’s leading minds in science and medicine.

Did You Know There Are 390,900 Species of Plants Known to Scientists?

In an 80-page report that was based on a wealth of data collected from reports, notes in laboratory notebooks, and any other means of listing plants, it was revealed that the Earth has at least 390,900 species of plants. Those are just the known species across the globe. In areas that are untouched, above and below ground, there could be many more.

Species of Plants

State of World’s Plants

The report, titled the State of World’s Plants, offered more than just a list of plant species. It also identified which ones are currently used by man, unique features, and other elements specific to plants and their details. This is the first-ever report of its kind, and what it offered was very revealing in terms of how little the world really knows about the plants that thrive on it. It also offered some startling conclusions about the impact of the growing human population.

Plant Facts

This report did not include algae or moss, so it doesn’t technically include all of the green or brown things that grow on the planet. However, it did include flowering plants, of which there are 369,400. Flowering or not, humans only use as many as 30,000 species out of the 390,900 identified. Around 17,000 of the plants listed have known medicinal properties that are used by man. Only 5,500 of all plants are consumed by humans. A little over 2,000 plants on the list were plants that were discovered and cataloged in 2015. One of those plants was a carnivorous plant that stands about 1.5 meters tall.

Impact of Man

Because there has never previously been a list of global plants, it is impossible to say with any accuracy just how many plants have become extinct. Even when fossils are found and cataloged, this type of list is not possible because there may be other plants that are still unknown. The one thing that can be said with certainty is that 20% of all of the plants listed are currently in danger of becoming extinct.

Man has a significant role to play in the extinction of these plants. As the population grows, and more structures are built, plant life is removed from the areas where structures are built. Those are just the direct deaths of plants. There is always an indirect impact on any ecological system that is changed in any way.

Man is now able to travel just about anywhere in the world. That means species can be brought in, whether by accident or on purpose, to new areas. Each species has an impact on the system it grows in. Sometimes that impact is death or disease. The same is true when animals migrate or become extinct.

Plants of the Future

Now that there is a list of global plants, scientists can begin filling their laboratory notebooks in earnest as they explore the details and functions of some of the lesser-known species. There may be uses and dangers that have yet to be thought of at all. At the very least, it’s important to learn how one species might impact another, or whole ecosystems, so that extinction and hybrid options can be better understood.

Plants of the Future

Great Science Fair Lab Notebooks

The science fair is coming and you have a great project in mind. Science fair participants often win great rewards, such as bonus points in school, and maybe scholarship money for college. With so much at stake, it is imperative that you always put your best foot forward. Judges, teachers and other science fair participants are likely to ask many questions about your project, from how you started it, to what steps you took in developing it. Keeping your research, ideas and findings in laboratory notebooks can not only help you develop your project smoothly, but can help you answer the questions and win the prize!

There are several lab notebooks to choose from today. It is mostly a matter of preference whether you select a bound composition notebook, an official lab notebook, an electronic lab notebook, or a duplicate-style lab notebook. Some are better suited to students in certain grade levels, while others are better suited to certain types of projects. Before choosing yours, try to evaluate how well it will serve your purposes.

The advantages of a bound spine make it hard for pages to be torn out and lost. They have hard covers which protect the contents. Students from kindergarten through middle school often use these. Official lab notebooks come with features such as places for a table of contents and page numbers. Some provide quick reference materials, like a Periodic Table or conversion charts. These can be used by anyone of any age. Duplicate-style notebooks rely on carbonless paper to make copies of pages. These are great when lab partners are working together on a project.

Electronic lab notebooks can be kept using software on a PC or on the Internet and are becoming more popular in the scientific community. Any of these laboratory notebooks can help you record your science fair project in a meaningful way.

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.

The Downsides of Electronic Lab Notebooks

While many in the scientific community are pushing for the transition from paper lab notebooks to electronic devices, there are still many reasons why paper notebooks are a better option for researchers. Before you invest in electronic notebooks for your research, consider the following downsides of going digital.


While electronic notebooks are small, they still need a power source and have limited battery life. Since not all research is done in a lab, having an electronic device could put some researchers at a disadvantage. This is particularly true for research that requires observation in the fields of animal and plant sciences. A paper notebook is a far more reasonable tool in these situations.


When used in a court of law to defend a patent, paper is still more reliable than digital data. Digital systems can be compromised, hacked, and tampered with, allowing results and dates to be changed without anyone knowing that the data has been altered. These types of changes are much more difficult to attempt with paper notebooks, making them a better choice for patent litigation.

Resistant to Spills

Electronic notebooks can be damaged by spills in the lab. Paper notebooks are designed to be spill-resistant, thereby retaining recorded data that would otherwise be lost in a digital notebook. For researchers who work in labs with chemicals, digital notebooks can be susceptible to damage throughout the course of the research process.

While many industries are quickly going digital, the field of scientific research is one that still benefits from traditional research recording methods. Lab notebooks are best when they are paper, as they are able to efficiently hold data without compromise.

Preparing to Defend your Patent

When you find yourself defending a patent in a court of law, there are a couple of key pieces of evidence that can help make your case for you. As you prepare for court and meet with attorneys, be sure to have all of the documentation you need to defend your ideas.

Lab Notebooks

Your lab notebooks are one of the most important pieces of evidence you can introduce to defend your patent. You should have taken skillful, meticulous notes that were kept in chronological volumes. Be sure to have these ready for meetings with your lawyers to help build your case.

Team Project Reports

These reports show your progress throughout your research and development, and can back up some of the data in your notebooks, specifically the dates and times that certain phases of work were started or completed.

Records of Failures

While your recorded failures should be kept in the same notebook as your successes, they deserve separate mention. Notebooks that are full of “wins” can seem unbelievable, to some, in a court of law. Showing that your work had failures, as well as successes, can lend credibility to your research and work for you when you find yourself defending a patent.

Your patents are the result of your blood, sweat, and tears. In order to ensure that you win any litigation, you should always start any research project under the assumption that you will have to prove the work is yours, and that the work is real, in a court of law. Your lab notebooks, project reports, and successes and failures will all help you in court.