Lab notebooks

21 October 2007

Everyone has their own way of maintaining their lab notebooks. Some people just write things down on one single book after another, with different projects meshed in between. Others use loose sheets, organised into folders, separated by filing tabs for the different projects. Some keep the notes electronically.

This is how I keep mine. A combination of both.

Electronically
A folder is set up within my computer called Lab Notes. Within this are folders for the different projects that I’m working on. My notes are typed onto Word documents as I work, so there isn’t a particular formatting. Just simple notes detailing what I’ve done, where I’ve obtained my data file from etc, in sequential manner. I also mark, usually at the top of the page, the directory on Linux where I had carried out my analysis.

Hard copies
Every few days, the documents are backed up onto CD and a remote server. I would also try to organise a few days notes into one coherent document and get this printed and filed away in folders. No details can be deemed insignificant. The CDs are kept off site (i.e. at home), while remote server copy comes in handy when I work using different computer/laptop in the sense that I can access and retrieve the notes at any time, anywhere.

Filing the notes
From experience, I found indexing notes to be very useful. (I used to even index my lecture notes, down to the page number). For each project folder, after the printed documents are filed, I’d add to the front index page brief headlines of the new addition and give the pages number.

Program scripts
Lately I have taken to also print out program scripts and include them with the project notes. Maybe it’s paranoia setting in, but if I lose any of these, it’ll take time to rewrite the scripts from scratch, debug them and ensuring everything run from start to finish without error. Printing a few extra sheets of paper will not kill me, although I try to minimise the amount of paper used by printing on both sides and using smaller font size. Chances are I won’t be reading these again but better to be safe than sorry.

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3 Responses to “Lab notebooks”

  1. San said

    Oh i have the same guilt pang everytime I print out my blog postings. Other than small fonts & duplex printing, I also change the paper margins so that I can squeeze as many text as possible 😀

  2. hank said

    You are very organised. Mine are all stored electronically and meshed up in my laptop.

  3. alexalynn said

    San, yup! Use up all the margins possible… can’t be good for me eyes though 😉

    Hank, I try, but I still have days when I had to hunt high and low for scripts and notes because I forgot to make note of edits that I’ve done etc.

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