Guidelines for Keeping a Laboratory Record

The notebook is your record of work done in the laboratory and should be recorded in the first person. It does not require glamorous penmanship but legibility is paramount and a modicum of organization is helpful. With experience you will begin to predict the types of data generated by various experiments and to set up your record-keeping accordingly. For example, a table or chart prepared before the data are collected, when appropriate, greatly simplifies recording, interpreting, and analyzing the results. Unfortunately, a complete and well-organized notebook comes only with experience and hard work. Hopefully, in this course you can develop good record keeping habits so that later the task of record keeping will not detract from the focus of the experiment.

These guidelines are written to help you keep notebooks that would be acceptable in an ACADEMIC research setting. (Standards for INDUSTRY may differ: e.g., b/c of PATENT process, notebooks may contain ONLY procedures and raw data; data analysis and interpretation must be done elsewhere.)

You are responsible for maintaining a research quality notebook that follows the guidelines we have given you.
SPECIAL NOTE: Record enough procedure details in your notebook during each day of lab so that you can repeat these procedures using your notebook as the PRIMARY resource (i.e., you should not use printed web pages or handouts from previous labs).

Copyright, Acknowledgements, and Intended Use
Created by B. Beason (bbeason@rice.edu), Rice University, 10 January 2008
Updated 11 October 2015