2017-08-10 5 Reasons Why You Are Taking Bad Lab Notes


Working in the lab can be fast-paced and often cumbersome. Deadlines can be harder to meet, and it’s oftentimes difficult to keep up with documentation. Keeping good records and documentation is integral for research to progress. Collecting wrong or inaccurate data can have serious repercussions when it comes to results and can often hold back a team from meeting expectations. In this article, we give our perspective on why you’re lab notes may be less than stellar.

Sole Commitment To Memory

“Don’t worry, I’ll remember it later.”

We can remember what we do on a regular basis, but most of the time we can’t even remember what we ate for breakfast two days ago.Getting too accustomed to the workflow can give a sense of complacency. Oftentimes, you get too used to the routine that you sacrifice good procedure such as writing down results immediately. Your memory can get hazy and remembering the finer details can be lost as time progresses.

Valuing The Experiment Over The Experiment Notes

Focusing on the task at hand is important but getting too wrapped up in the experiment can sacrifice opportunities to write important lab notes.“The experiment is more important than stopping to write down the experiment notes.” Wrong. It’s actually the opposite if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen!

Rewriting Previous Notes

When conducting experiments, there is often a pattern involved and you end up rewriting the same information from previous tests. There is a redundancy between some experiments and having to write the same information over and over can be time-consuming. Oftentimes, it’s more fruitful to just copy and paste while only updating what is necessary.

Heavy Workload

Days can be hectic and you can get inundated with immense tasks. It feels like you don’t have enough time in the day to get things done and instead of leaving work at 5 or 6 like you normally do, you end up staying till 9 or 10. This can often lead to procrastination.“I’ll write the notes tomorrow.” Unfortunately, we can only remember 50% of what we did 24 hours ago. Is the sacrifice of putting off work till tomorrow enough to outweigh having accurate and useful data?

Laziness And Lacking Motivation

General laziness is good only if you can get the job done in the allotted time. Most groundbreaking innovations are created by “lazy” people who don’t accept the status-quo and want to come up with a solution that takes away the tediousness of certain tasks and want to shave off time to enjoy the rest of their day. “Work smart, not hard.” General laziness without results can’t merit enough to put off work and is unacceptable. Don’t make the excuse of not writing down notes because you lack the motivation and just don’t feel like doing it.


At the end of the day, taking excellent lab notes boils down to having discipline and not compromising on data collection by undermining its value in the experiment. Sometimes, it takes an efficient system to streamline work for more productive research. At Labii, we help do the heavy lifting for otherwise mundane and repetitive note taking tasks with our ELN and LIMS. For more information on how we can help make your next experiment a success, contact us at this form.

By Matthew Manalac

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