Laboratory Notebook


Laboratory notebooks (lab notebooks) allow for clear and unambiguous records of laboratory procedures.  This piece of equipment can facilitate replication of experimentation, and can be entered into a court of law as evidence.  In some circumstances highly technical laws regulate the maintenance of lab notebooks


Not all lab notebooks are equal, and not all circumstances require that such notebooks be maintained at a specific standard (high or low).  For our purposes in Bio 120 or Micro 100, we will maintain a casual lab notebook, mainly requiring the use of a specific format and containing specific sorts of information.


Notebook Format and General Rules


The lab notebook must be a physically bound book, and cannot be a spiral-bound or loose-leaf book.  Only the right-hand pages are to be written on – the one side only; do not write on the left-hand pages, which are the “backs” of pages that you write on.  All pages are to be numbered consecutively in the bottom right corner, and all entries should be made legibly in black or blue permanent ink, such as from a ball-point pen, but pencil is acceptable.  Pages cannot be removed from the notebook.  Ideally, errors cannot be erased or whited-out, but if pencil is used to create the lab notebook, carefully erasing material is permissible.  Missing pages must be explained in writing in the book.  Lab notebooks cannot be revised or rewritten.  Thus, information regarding lab experiments must be entered into the lab notebook during the actual laboratory on hand.


Additional information, such as photos, graphs, and charts, can be included in the lab notebook, but must be physically attached with glue or tape to the page opposite the facing page.  Include a brief written description on the page before attaching the attachment, so that if the is removed, the description will indicate what was there.


Do not skip pages and do not skip lines.  The idea is that empty space can be filled in later, so a process must be in place to prevent this from happening, reducing the potential for fraud and error.  If lines are to be skipped to allow for a formatting protocol, then a device or initial must be used on the line to clearly indicate that the line has been intentionally left blank.


If a page is skipped, a large ‘X’ must be drawn across it.  The page is then initialed and dated. While generally frowned upon, you may skip a line as needed to separate sections. There should be no unused empty space on a page, except for the printed margins. Treat large blocks of blank space like a blank page (this assures the reader that no information was added later).


Initials on pages.  In practice, all pages are initialed and dated at the bottom as they are completed.  For the purpose of our lab notebook, initials are not required.


Errors must be marked out with a single line through the error so that the original writing can be read.  A correction can be inserted legibly to the right of the error.  The corrector must initial and date the line being modified on the right margin.  A number coding may be used to identify additional information on a following page wherein a correction is further explained.


Lab notebooks are individual items that should not be copied from others.  Group work, however, can include common descriptors.  All participants in a group laboratory must be clearly indicated in the lab documentation.  There is no problem with all of the lab notebooks of the group participants having the data in duplicate.  Group work must be referenced, to identify the lab notebook volumes and start pages that the other participants in the group are using in their own lab notebooks.  This allows easier cross-checking and referencing.





Front of book = Include all required information


Use facing pages only, numbered sequentially in the bottom right corner

Use approximately 2 pages per completed lab (should be able to complete 6 lab summaries)


Front page

The front page of the lab notebook should include information related to the notebook keeper and the subject of study.  For our purposes, the following information will be required:

First Name, Last Name

(contact phone number &/or e-mail)

Semester, YEAR

Biology 120 Laboratory – or – Microbiology 100 Laboratory

Dr. Nicholson

Oxnard College

No title is required

Volume record number (This information unambiguously identifies the lab notebook among other lab notebooks that might be in use or that might have otherwise been compiled; your book will be “Volume #1” or “Volume 1”.  If this lab notebook is filled up, start a new one with ‘Volume Two’ as the record, and so forth.  It is highly UNLIKELY that your lab notebook will require a second volume.  However, this information is useful and is generally a component of what is included for record-keeping purposes, so please do include it in your lab notebook)


Laboratory entries must be made in the following order:


Cell Lysis (Fingerprinting 1)

DNA Purification (Fingerprinting 2)

Gel Electrophoresis (Fingerprinting 3)

RAPD-PCR (Fingerprinting 4)

Fingerprinting (Fingerprinting 5)

Data Analysis (Fingerprinting 6) (Spring 2017, do not include in journal)

Laboratory Notes


Each lab write-up must contain the following sections:


Title – Be brief; this can match the items in the entries noted above.  Under it, include your name (and any lab partners) and the date the lab started.


Statement of purpose – Briefly describe the purpose of the experiment without using the phrase, ‘The purpose of this experiment/lab/exercise is to…’


Background – Important references, reactions, tables, and other items can be included here for immediate reference.  Hypotheses, observations, predictions, and variables go here, too.


Procedure – A step-by-step overview of the laboratory process.  Do not just copy this from original lab manual sources, but instead condense, reword, and paraphrase.  This can be highly abbreviated, but must clear enough to allow a skilled individual to know what was done.  The idea is to have sufficient information included to ensure that the experiment can be reproduced.  Most experiments will require only a page here.  For the procedure section, try to use only the left 2/3 of the page to write on, keeping the right 1/3 for potential corrections later.  If no corrections are made later, the right-hand 1/3 can be X-ed out.


Results and Calculations – This is the only place that results will be entered. Attachments may be necessary, and can be taped to the facing page with a reference to the attachment in the text of the entry.  Plan for this as the experiment proceeds, and identify spaces that may accept information later.  Data collected and entered must be in chronological order.  Again, sufficient information must be included to ensure that the experiment can be understood.  Include any calculations that were necessary here.  It should be clear as to how calculation results are obtained.


Conclusions – Summarize the results and implications of the results here.  Additional items of interest may be included, in written terms that is (e.g. comparisons to other work).


Most Bio Lab entries will require only 2-3 pages.


Most Important Points to Remember


1. Write on right-hand pages only, do not write on left-hand pages

2. Keep the labs in the correct order

3. Include all of the required sections for a lab record (title, purpose, etc.)

4. Strike out mistakes with a single line, and insert initial, date, & correction (if needed)

5. X out blank pages between lab records