Thursday, May 19, 2011

Scientific Lab Book Keeping

I just committed one of the biggest faults in research journal keeping. I wrote on the first page.

This is killing me inside since I knew that the first page was suppose to be left blank for the table of contents. Look at my chemistry lab book this semester and you'll note that I left the first 3 pages blank. Well not anymore since I wrote the table of contents in on the first page, so now there's just an awkward 2 blank pages afterwards.


Worst part is as I wrote on the first page I had a slight feeling that I should stop writing and leave that page alone. But alas recording observations of the babPR72 Drosophila mutant was too distracting at the time and so I not only continued writing on the first page, but I wrote over the WHOLE page and then CONTINUED to write on the NEXT page!

By this point there was no way to leave a random page blank because I already had a bunch of information written in the first two pages. So where am I going to put the table of contents now?!?

Luckily there's this precessor page before the lined pages start that is blank on its back side. The front side is for contact information in case I lose the lab book. I figure if worst comes to worst and I need a table of contents later I'll just use this random blank page.

However to remind myself to never repeat this grave error again, I'm going to list all the rules of research journal keeping so I will be able to look at it later and remember.

  • Lab book must be hard cover
  • Pages much be stitched into cover, no loose-leaf or spiral bound
  • Pages are to be numbered
  • First page(s) left blank to act as table of contents later
  • All entries to be dated
  • When an entry is complete it should be initialed to prove that it was your own entry (and not that of some competitor trying to ruin your data)
  • Changes to past entries should also be dated and initialed 
  • Only write on the right hand page; leave the back (left) blank (so if you need to change things afterwards you have space to write on)
    • This might be another reason to leave the first page blank because there is no left side page accompanying it (woe is me...)
  • Cross out errors or in-corrections by drawing a single line through it so it is still legible (to ensure no data was hidden or purposely changed to alter results)
    • If a large paragraph or diagram needs to be deleted, put a big X through it but make sure it's still legible afterwards
  • Never rip pages out of lab book 
Hopefully I didn't forget anything important. Hopefully I'll remember to consult this list next time I need to start a new lab journal. 

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