As some of you may already know, I used to work in scientific laboratories—specifically, those having to do with biochemistry and molecular biology. I no longer do lab work, mainly because of my mild disabilities which rendered me unable to manipulate some of the intricate devices used in the field. However, I never lost my fascination with and respect for science. We can all thank science for the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic emergency was recently declared over.
One thing that anyone who has ever worked in a scientific lab will tell you is that it is very important to keep a neat, detailed laboratory notebook. I learned this in my undergraduate biology and chemistry classes and it has stuck with me ever since. A lab worker who comes in your place after you have left should be able to look at your lab notebook and replicate your work (not necessarily your results, but what you did for the experiment).
I loved lab notebooks because in them, I got to write. And is writing not my favorite thing to do? I got to write stepwise procedures and describe results. Oftentimes, I also got to draw the results. I love to draw. (I preferred organic chemistry class to general chemistry because in organic, I got to draw compounds and molecules.) I can think of at least one class I took as an undergraduate where my lab notebook brought up my final grade.
However, I also hated lab notebooks because in some situations, I had to be so detailed that it drove me crazy. When I took a class which simulated work in the biochemical industry, there was a horrible amount of detail involved in the keeping of a lab notebook. There was the issue of traceability, where I had to document the brand name, lot number, model number, and expiration date (if given) of every single compound, reagent, or instrument I used. If I made any kind of mistake, I had to put a single line through the error and write the correction next to it along with my initials and the date. Finally, at the end of every lab period, another student would have to sign every page of my lab notebook for that day. Whew!
If you work or have ever worked in a scientific laboratory, what are your thoughts on lab notebooks?