I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy.
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 and in PAST tense. 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.)
- See Guidelines
for Keeping a Laboratory Record from Experimental Biosciences Resources.
- Every page must be dated in the appropriate format
- Recall that the page number and date go in the UPPER
RIGHT corner of each page; if your pages are prenumbered,
you do not have to "renumber" them
- Each page should contain only ONE date (i.e., do not put
multiple dates on the same page; start a new page for a new
- The Table of Contents must be kept current (i.e., you must
update it before coming to lab each week)
Your notebook will be scored as indicated on the Fall and Spring BIOC
311 checklist or Summer BIOC
consult the checklist periodically and use it to check your notebook
before turning in pages at the end of each lab.
- NOTE: Unannounced inspection of the carbon copy notebook
pages kept in the laboratory will be made
- Notebooks are due for grading at the end of lab
day 3 and 1-2 weeks after the
last day of lab
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). An exception to this note are the instructions
for using the spectrophotometers; there are 3 models, and
since you may not always use the same type, you can have
those instructions handy in your "BIOC 311 Binder" (for
- Please carefully read my Honor
Code Policy BEFORE the first day of lab
- It is required that the experiments be recorded in a bound,
gridded notebook with consecutively numbered pages
(note: does not have to begin with page # 1) and carbonless
- You must place the copy notebook pages
for each lab session in your folder BEFORE
leaving lab EACH week; do not remove these pages from your
folder until after they
have been graded
- Reserve 1-2 pages at the beginning of the notebook for
your Table of Contents (or you may use the preprinted space
on the inside cover)
- Notebooks may be purchased at the campus store: Chemistry
Top 100-set, ISBN 1-930882-00-9 (Hayden McNeil)
- You may use your notebook from BIOC 111, 211, 313, or 318
(or from Organic Chemistry lab) if you have pages remaining
- Here are additional details for BIOC 311:
- Record entries on NB pages "top to bottom" (i.e., do not
use a "two column" format)
- Your notebook must be initialed by a TA or myself
at the end
of each lab session; the date and time will
also be noted.
The Table of Contents will be checked at the beginning of lab on days 2-7; assigned pre-lab calculations will also be checked.
- Use a BALL-POINT PEN for ALL entries
Use ONLY black or blue ink
Do NOT use felt-tip, roller-ball, or fountain pens
- A folder or binder is also required to keep chart recordings,
spread sheets, computer printouts, photographs, and graphs
- Do NOT "pre-write" objectives or methods
in your notebook BEFORE you come to lab; pre-lab calculations
and items in the Table of Contents are the ONLY entries
permitted in your notebook when you come to lab
- A notebook is required to be a chronological account of
TAKE YOUR NOTEBOOK EVERYWHERE IN THE LAB! Do not write on scratch
paper and copy the notes into your notebook.
NOTE: After your team has completed the procedures for
the day, you will have ~ TEN minutes to finish recording information
in your notebooks; at that time you will be asked to submit the
pages you have, even if you have not completed them. Take
advantage of "down" times during lab to collect procedural details
and experimental data from your partners.
**You MUST enter all procedures and data directly into your
notebook during the lab itself. Your entries must be sufficiently detailed so that you or
someone else could conduct any procedure with only the notebook as a guide.**
When experiments are performed concurrently (as is the case most of the time) it is impossible to have uninterrupted pages dedicated to a specific section of the experiment. When notes for more than one experiment are on the same page, write "continued on page ##" below the entry for each experiment. The top of each page of a continuing investigation should read "continued from page ##". This notation seems redundant when the results are on consecutive pages but it is absolutely necessary when the data are recorded after a section of another experiment.
The notebook must have some basis of organization and chronological order is the only standard recognized.
- Indicate the member of your team who actually
did each procedure (first name is sufficient);
in certain settings, such as industry, supervisors must
know WHO did the work (e.g., when deciding who gets the
all procedures that you perform in sufficient detail to
repeat the experiment; give brief descriptions of procedures
performed by team members, and record all raw data generated
by your team. Remember to describe any problems encountered
or unexpected results.
- When errors occur while making entries, draw a single line through the incorrect value and write the correct value above or beside the error. A note may also be made as to the cause of the error. No entry should be made illegible no matter what the error.
If a chart, table, or even a page becomes intolerably messy,
draw a single "x" over the mess and note at the bottom of the
page "will be corrected later" and recopy with corrections on
page ## with a notation "recopied
with corrections from page ##".
- Analysis / Conclusions item on the notebook checklist refers to when you complete a major study (e.g., ADA Stability Study on day 2; Enzyme Kinetics on day 5): you should analyze your data (calculations, standard curves, graphs, etc.) and write your conclusions in your notebook.
and Intended Use
Created by B. Beason (firstname.lastname@example.org), Rice University, 9 June 1999
Updated 23 August 2016