During your lab work, you may find it a chore to jot down notes, but you also know you’ll need those notes in the future. If you know how to keep a scientific lab notebook, you’ll spend less time flipping through to find what you need and more time continuing your study.
Evaluate Your Note-Taking Style
How do you work best? Everybody has different methods of taking down the information they need. Some prefer to work digitally, while others like to write by hand. Some jot down cursory notes as they go and elaborate on those points later, and some take time to write meticulous notes on the spot. Think about how you took notes in school and which approach you found most effective.
Gather Your Tools
If you prefer to work digitally, experiment with apps and software. Some people like to take notes manually and scan them to keep on a computer (this also provides a backup copy of your notes if your physical notebook gets lost, damaged, or stolen).
If you’re in the market for a scientific lab book, look for one with hardier archival-quality paper to avoid ink bleeding through the pages. Scientific Notebook offers a variety of durable lab books with permanent binding sewn on Smyth machines, so they lie flat for ease of note-taking. The best writing implements are lightweight pens with archival-quality ink.
Remember Its Purpose
A scientific notebook isn’t the place for musings or what-ifs. The only notes that belong in that book are observable, relevant points. It’s a record of what your experiment is and what procedures you use, as well as the data you collect and the results. Your notebook is your legacy in that lab, and it can also serve as a legal document if you ever need to prove your work isn’t fraudulent or plagiarized. (This is why it may be prudent for you to scan your notes into your personal computer, so you’ve got a backup copy.)
A scientific notebook is an extremely valuable resource. You never know when you’ll make a groundbreaking discovery, and when that moment comes, you want to have a clear and precise record. When you learn how to keep a scientific lab notebook, your peers will thank you.