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Keeping a Good Lab Notebook

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A lab notebook is one of the most important things to have in a good, scientific chemistry lab. The lab notebook is where you record the procedures, ideas, and results that fill your time in the lab. If necessary a well-kept lab notebook can be used to prove ownership of intellectual property. If you don’t keep a good lab notebook your work is in danger of being stolen. A good lab notebook is more than protection from theft, though. A well kept lab notebook is an excellent tool to help you remember what you’ve done so far and where you need to go.

DO: Use a Pen. It might be tempting to use a pencil in your lab notebook, but you should resist the urge. While a pencil can be erased making your lab book looking more neat it can also fade over time. Even when using pen avoid the habit of scribbling out an error. Instead you should cross the error out with a single line and initial the change. This approach may leave some pages looking more messy, but it’s an important way to secure the integrity of your lab notebook.

DO: Record Everything. There’s no such thing as an unnecessary detail in a lab notebook. Record everything you do (or think) while you’re in the lab. You never know which details will become important as time goes on. Don’t be left trying to remember a minor detail that could have been easily recorded.

DON ’T: Use a Notebook with Perforated Pages. Many notebooks available have pages that are perforated to be easily torn out. While this is helpful if you need to turn in a homework assignment help or share a page with a friend, pages that are easily torn out are the worst thing you could have in your lab notebook. Your notebook is sure to see some heavy use (if you’re using it like you should). Pages falling out could leave important details on the floor or in the trash.

DON ’T: Wait to Write. It may be easier to do an experiment or entire day’s work before recording the results and what you did in your lab book. Doing this will leave your notebook incomplete. You won’t be able to recall all the things that happened during the day. Remember, minor details are often the most important details to have in your lab notebook. Don’t miss those details by waiting until the end of the day to write them down.

Your lab notebook is the key to your success. By following these tips you’ll be on your way to great results.

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