Why is proper
record keeping in a bound notebook important? In the U.S., the
first person to conceive of an invention, product, or process is awarded
the patent for that product or process. Notebooks properly kept and witnessed
are legal evidence of conception to practice an invention.
Why A Legal, Scientific
Everyone involved in research or product design and development in
a must keep a legal, scientific notebook. A legal, scientific notebook
contains a record of all work done by the scientist.
To settle patent
disputes, such as when someone argues that they made a discovery first
and says a discovery or process belongs to them.
When a specialist
must report findings from testing, such as in paternity suits or criminal
If the scientific
notebook is not produced in an acceptable fashion, it will be inadmissible
as evidence and it will not be used. The following protocol will help
you setup and maintain your legal scientific notebook.
Use only your
official notebook to record your work. A lab notebook is a bound
book from which you cannot remove pages.
Date and sign
Maintain a table
of contents as you make entries in notebook. Leave the first few pages
blank and fill them in as you go along.
Make all entries
legible in permanent ink only.
Do not erase,
ink-over, or white-out any errors. Line through errors so they can
still be read. Place your initials by the correction.
State the objective
(purpose) of each experiment, and reference previous work or projects.
Use "See page..." or "Go to..." statements.
Record all materials,
quantities used, reaction or operating conditions in sufficient detail
and clarity so someone of equal skill could understand or repeat the
procedures if necessary.
and codes when possible. Reference or key those used.
List all persons
from whom samples were obtained, shared, or transferred.
entries, such as key conclusions or new ideas, have a coworker sign
and date the entry. Be sure the coworker is not a coinventor
but is capable of understanding the meaning of the notebook entry.
How To Set Up A
Legal, Scientific Notebook
Obtain a bound
Use only black
or blue pen to make all entries into the notebook. Incorrect entries
may be scratched out with a single line only and must be labeled with
Graphs and other
small sheets of paper may be pasted into your notebook, when necessary.
When pasting, only use a gluestick.
Number every page
of the notebook (in the top corner) starting with the front side of
the first page being number 1 and the back of the first page numbered
2. Continue numbering the front and back of every page of the notebook.
Make page #1 your
Title Page. In the middle of the page, in bold print, write:
BIOLOGY ###PROJECT TITLE
Make pages #2-5
the Table of Contents. Write Table of Contents at the top of each
of these pages. Each time you start recording information for a new
topic or lesson, an entry is written on the Table of Contents showing
where the record of work begins.
Your record of
work will begin on page #7. All notes, procedures, data (tables, charts,
drawings, graphs, and written observations), analysis, conclusions,
and comments are recorded in your notebook in chronological order.
Reserve a few
pages for your Materials.
As you are working,
and reach the bottom of the page, you must sign the page and date
it. Also, write Go to... and tell the reader where the rest of the
information for this topic is found in the notebook. If you set your
notebook up this way, it should be relatively easy for you or anyone
familiar with the work you are doing to find specific data, observations,
and conclusions about a specific topic.