Janet B. Matsen:Best Lab Practices

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I have come to appreciate the trade-off between thoroughness and efficiency/throughput. If you are overlyly thorough and careful, nothing will get done. If you are overly throughput oriented, errors will occur. I am always looking to tune my sweet spot in all of my lab practices.

Please contact me with questions, comments, and corrections.

Record Keeping

  • Page numbers are usually more useful than dates. I put page numbers (and usually dates) on all tubes I put in the freezer.
  • Keep a list of every primer you order that you can query and reference. I number each primer tube and have them arranged chronologically in my freezer.

DNA Manipulation

  • If you are doing something at all complicated, make a cad design of it before you start your DNA work. This will make you sure you have your design right, allow you to check your primers properly, and be available for consultation/sharing at a later date.


  • Science should be fun! Treat everyone well and keep your workplace a pleasant place for everyone to come.