The Importance of Good Laboratory Notebook Practices

Establishing good laboratory notebook practices begins in high school. It is important for science and engineering instructors to require that their students have a proper notebook to record their work in for the class. Some students might question why they need to write in their notebooks and why they cannot just use a laptop or tablet instead. Instructors should be prepared to answer these types of questions by educating their students with the following information.

Laboratory Notebook

  • Recording theories, experiments, and their outcomes in notebooks makes it easy to review later and ensures the student can build upon prior experiences to improve upon and potentially reach the desired outcome. Plus, it is much easier to make notations, sketch drawings, and other such things quickly and easily in paper notebooks.
  • Notebooks allow students to record every vital detail about coursework and related projects. In some courses, students are required to write a final paper at the end of the course that covers the projects they completed throughout the class. Having access to a notebook where everything was recorded makes it easier for students to compose their final papers.
  • Numerous university and college courses will require students to use the appropriate notebooks. Learning how to properly use notebooks while still in high school will prepare students now, so, when they start college, they will already be familiar with using these types of notebooks with their classes.
  • Handwritten notebooks in ink establish a record of the work completed and time period. This can be important later in life should your students pursue a career in science, engineering, medicine, and other such fields. Often, filing for a trademark, patent, or copyright requires being able to prove various details and/or being able to defend oneself against legal actions, should another obtain one of these protected items for a similar item.

Recording Information in the Notebooks

Part of establishing good notebook practices is learning how to record information. First, everything from text entries to drawings and sketches should be written in ink, never pencil. Next, rather than scratching out mistakes and errors, or attempting to cover them up with correction fluid, it is better to leave them alone and simply draw a single line through the entry and record an explanation why it was crossed out.

It is also recommended to record any materials you used and their amounts in your notebook. This way, if you need to repeat an experiment or alter it later, you will have a record of what you already used and how much of it. Further, if you are working in a team, lab notebooks can help show each person’s contributions. For any entries you make, remember to sign your name and date under them to show your contributions to the project.

Laboratory Notebook

There are many different styles of notebooks out there to choose from, and the best ones to use are ones with permanently bound pages available from Scientific Notebook Company. Please feel free to contact us at 800.537.3028 for assistance in selecting the best notebooks for your students, research projects, or coursework.

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