Laboratory Note Book: A treasure for researcher

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A Lab Note Book keeps all the memories of a research in an organized manner and can also have a role in protecting any intellectual property that comes from the research. Maintenance or keeping record of day to day activities in the lab cannot be achieved in a single day rather; this skill can be acquired by long constant working experience. It is a good way of monitoring own pace of lab performance and current status of research work.

It is a common practice often observed in Pakistan that a research student just fills in the note book as a formality or with careless attitude. The researcher sometimes adds the data of research in loose papers so if by mistake s/he lost the papers s/he suffers and laments badly at the end, having nothing except to repeat experimentation.

However, the keeping proper record of all laboratory activities with possible references in a note book is one of the prime d
uty and objective of any good researcher. It is not only useful for a supervisor or in-charge of the research project (who may ask at any time to see the findings or results) but also one of the basic requirements when a researcher files his/her research for patent or look for industrial linkage for development.

The lab notebook shows the properness of the research, and is a sound proof of good laboratory practice with experimental outcomes of success or failures. Indeed it is a guide book or a reference source for future, when a scientist continues that research work. At the same time the lab note book is needed as a source of proof that indicates the completion of research work. And all the details recorded in the note book helps further in designing the experiments and to remove the errors.

There are two types of lab note books – traditional paper note book and electronic note book. The traditional paper note book is the most common but old way based upon hard copy and noting down all day long activities in the lab in short form, but if, once it is lost, everything lost. The electronic note book is the modern form of traditional paper not book, in which one can save all the data electronically in soft copy.

Most institutions or research organizations have their own procedure or instructions regarding the note book, and they provide customized manual or electronic lab note books. This has gained some popularity especially in large pharmaceutical and some other industries, which actually have large numbers of researchers and they feel seriously need to document their experiments and develop the data base.

Different labs or institutions in fact have their own way of keeping records in the note book but the salient features of a generic note book comprise: Title, Date, Project number, Experiment / batch number, Project supervisor, Aims and objectives, Methodology, Details of experimental equipment used, Table of data and column headings and graphs (if applicable), Numerical calculations and statistics, Observation/results and discussion and conclusions, References, and Date and signature.

The lab note book also helps to manage Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). It is the need of time for researchers, not only as a part of duty and formality but to protect them from stealing and alteration of their research data.

The actual motive of this article is to develop the forgotten practice of writing and keeping record of the lab note book. It is a moral responsibility of a researcher to keep…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… all the data save with honestly for future benefits and some-how responsibility also lies over the shoulders of a supervisor to keep an eye to all the lab related activities of research student for better and productive output.

The author is a Faculty Member, Microbiology at Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) – Pakistan. (Email ID: sikandar_biology@hotmail.com)


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