When it comes to strategies for taking notes for scientific procedures there really isn’t much variety. Facts are facts and they need to be recorded. The notebook used and the formatting of the data may vary based on the scientist. Here are some important things to consider when keeping a laboratory notebook or logging any archival materials.
Taking notes is a vital step in the experimental process. As you go along in the experiment, write things down. Every now and then you can write down the protocol or what you are about to do before beginning an experiment. If during the experiment, you do anything differently than planned, you will want to make the necessary edits.
Keeping a lab notebook is much like the process of cooking. If you clean while you are cooking, it is easier than waiting until the end to clean up all the dishes. Making entries into a laboratory notebook in a timely fashion will lower the risk of forgetting important parts of the experiment or adding details you are unsure about.
There are many ways your paper notebook can be organized to record experiments or other archival materials. Some choose to follow the chronological order. Using this method, each page represents a new day. A detailed description of what was done, why, and how using present tense is included. Along with those details, the time, date, and location of where the work was done and the names of any other partners working with you should be recorded.
If there were any special or unique circumstances that came up while performing the work, that should be documented as well. For authenticity, your signature and a witness should mark whenever possible. The preference is that everything should be recorded in pen. If there was a mistake, only a single line should be drawn through it so the print underneath is still legible. If some archival material need to be taped into the notebook, sign, and date across the tape.
Keeping an accurate log is of utmost importance for the success of the experiment. Having a methodology and sticking to it will help you keep your data organized and your experiment moving forward.