Think a good, old-fashioned scientific notebook is a relic of the past now that we live in the age of smartphones and tablets? Think again. Unlike electronic devices, notebooks can be taken anywhere and used at any time, under just about any conditions, and can be used to perform many essential functions in a laboratory environment. Read on to find out what.
It Helps You Keep Track of Your Work
The first and most obvious benefit of a well-maintained laboratory notebook is that it provides you with a record of the progress of your experiments, and future ideas that are easy to access at just about any time. When you take the time to carefully record all the steps you’ve taken and the results you’ve discovered at the end of each of those steps, it’s easy to pick up where you’ve left off after some time away or to double check your work before moving on to an important step that might be difficult to turn back from.
It Lets You Record Your Ideas
Just as important as keeping track of the work you’ve already done is keeping a record of the tasks you have yet to do, and writing down ideas for what you might do in the future. The laboratory life is a hectic one, and keeping track of all the ideas you have by using just your head is only good for forgetting the things you want to do when it comes time to remember them. With a well-kept laboratory notebook at hand, you can keep a detailed list of future plans and ideas worth exploring that will always be there whenever you need it.
It Lets You Keep Track of Your Lab Partners
Complicated experiments often involve multiple people working in tandem, which means that there may be significant portions of an experiment that you have no direct responsibility for. While that can make things easier, it can also add additional stress – a team is only as good as its weakest member, after all. In order to avoid mistakes and to make double-checking each other’s work as easy as possible, use your laboratory notebook to keep a record of your teammate’s work, which you can all review and provide feedback on.
It Helps You Stay Organized
How far in advance do you have your laboratory tasks planned out? The more detailed and far-reaching your already laid-out plans, the less time you have to spend, down the road, figuring out where to go next. Where better to keep your future schedule than in the trusty laboratory notebook you always keep by your side?
It May Help You Make Money (Really!)
There may come a time when your laboratory work leads to a discovery that you and your lab partners want to patent. In order to make it through the patent process, you’ll need to show a record of your work and your process, and the schedule on which you performed your experiments. This is especially relevant if someone else tries to patent the same discovery – proving that you were the first one to make a discovery (and that it truly is original) is one of the most important parts of the patent process.
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