Writing the laboratory notebook

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American Chemical Society, May 5, 1985 - Science - 145 pages
2 Reviews
Discusses the vital aspects of how to make a proper and permanent record of research work. Goes beyond the mechanical of simply filling in the notebook pages with details on the skills needed to create proper records of research, observations, and results. Helps to increase awareness of what is being done in the lab and to develop a flexible style of notekeeping that will serve a variety of research environments.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jennchem - LibraryThing

A reasonable reference, but frustratingly (to me, at least) focused on industrial settings with most concern for proprietary issues. I was disappointed also in the author's total rejection of any possibility of teaching good notebook habits to college freshmen. Read full review

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As a technical rewriter for an international patent office in Tokyo, Japan, I came across this book sitting on my desk. It provides a thorough guide to keeping an industrial laboratory notebook. Topics discussed included the following:
* types of suitable acid-free ink and paper for laboratory notebooks
* suitable methods for storage of laboratory notebooks
* differences between academic notekeeping and industrial notekeeping
* the importance of teaching notekeeping skills, starting with the sophomore year in college
* the importance of witnesses and clearly dated and qualified notebook entries in the patent industry
* good layout of the laboratory notebook, together with examples of the same
* electronic counterparts to the laboratory notebook
The writing was clear and easy to read and follow, and included numerous examples and photographs.
Of particular note were the descriptions and examples of the critical importance of witnesses in laboratory notekeeping for patents. The author gave an example of how the testimony of a witness for a Dr. Kassel on May 6, 1938, was found to be "even stronger proof of conception than the inventor's own ... records" (p. 108).
On a related note, the author discussed the importance of continuity (diligence) in securing patents by explaining that even if it could be shown in court that one inventor had initially conceived of an idea before another, the initial inventor could still lose the patent to the later inventor if the latter showed much greater diligence in pursuing the invention.
This title shed much new light on aspects of industrial notekeeping. The only reason that I did not give this review five stars was that the chapter on the electronic notebook was outdated; it did not take into account the World Wide Web. This is understandable, considering that the title was published in 1985; nevertheless, there should be an updated edition, which does not seem to exist. However, the rest of the chapter, and the rest of the book, was sufficiently general in scope to continue to be of great use, even now. I would actually have given this book 4.5 stars if possible.
Overall, the title proved useful and easy to read, and I finished reading the entire work in just a few days. Highly recommended.


The Hardware of Notekeeping
Legal and Ethical Aspects
Management of Notekeeping

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