As a student of science, you have a responsibility to take diligent notes as you learn and make discoveries. It may feel like a chore, but you still need to do it! When you learn how to keep a formal lab book, you’ll get into the habit of organizing your experiments—a valuable skill in any STEM field. Why should students keep written lab notebooks? Learn their many benefits as you gather your materials for school.
Hold Yourself Accountable
When you open your student lab notebook to a fresh page every day and write detailed lab notes, you develop a habit that will serve you well in the future. Think of it as writing your own textbook or handbook, and you’ll be more motivated to write complete thoughts and keep experiments in chronological order. And when you write in pen (as you should), any mistakes you make become part of your written record. Mistakes, like discoveries, are valuable learning tools.
Create a Study Aid
As a student, you’ll have multiple exams every semester to study for. Your textbook and class notes will help you, of course, but a record of your experiments is equally valuable. You learn by experience in the lab; reading those lab notes will cement in your mind that “on the fly” knowledge you gained.
Keep a Physical Copy
Electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) have been gaining popularity as we settle firmly into the digital age. But keeping all your notes on a computer can be risky! Your important files can fall victim to hackers. When you store valuable information in the cloud, it’s still in a database somewhere—and anyone with enough security savvy can access it. Keep notes in a digital format if you’d like, but always have a physical copy for backup.
Leave a Paper Trail
You may be a student now, but as you advance in your scientific studies, you may have a “Eureka!” moment. If you make an important discovery or create a new process, your detailed lab notes will prove that the research is yours. And when you’re as detailed as possible, future scholars can see the steps you took that led to your discovery.
When you pack your bags for school this semester, make sure your student lab notebook from Scientific Notebook is tucked away among the binders and folders. A written record of your lab work will serve you well, both now and in the future. When you know why students should keep written lab notebooks, you’ll be more motivated to write thorough notes every time you’re in the lab.