How We Help Students Keep a Good Lab Notebook

By: Alexandra Schnoes
Date: Aug. 1, 2019

No one is born knowing how to keep a good research lab notebook, but, fortunately, it’s a skill that everyone can learn. You should hopefully be taught how to keep a rigorous and reproducible lab notebook when you join a lab, but that doesn’t always happen. The apprenticeship model of training in science can let things fall through the cracks. Given its critical importance in science, we made sure to build training about keeping a lab notebook in our “Let’s Experiment: A Guide for Scientists Working at the Bench” course.

But just because we built training, doesn’t mean it makes an impact. To see how well we did, we did self-reported pre- and post- surveys on knowledge gained:


Pre-course survey results for research notebook question.


Post-course survey results for research notebook question.


Looking at the preliminary data here, course learners report a significant increase in knowledge after taking the course (N = 77, p < 0.05, Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks Test).

So if you would like to learn (or brush up) on your lab notebook skills, make sure to check into the course. We provide videos, text and even a lab notebook template to help you keep the most thorough notebook you can.