McClean: Lab Notebooks

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Working guidelines on how to keep your records, including your laboratory notebook, in the McClean lab. Please discuss edits to this document at group meetings.

Record Keeping Guidelines

Each member of the lab should have: 1) a paper notebook 2) a 3-ring binder for loose papers and 3) a folder on the McClean Lab server for all electronic documents. I also recommend keeping an excel sheet or table indexing your important experiments and a running powerpoint outline of your project. These are explained in more detail below:

  • Paper Laboratory Notebook
    • This should be a brown 11 ¾” X 9 ¼” computation notebook. This will be provided to you your first day in the lab. If you don’t receive one, please ask ASAP.
    • Write in your notebook in pen. Do not remove pages, do not add entries out of order. Date each entry.
    • This notebook is for recording experiments, calculations, and data.
    • Please read the NIH’s guidelines on keeping a notebook:
    • Notebooks must be left at your bench in the lab or in your drawer.
    • Notebooks must be brought to individual meetings. Megan will check notebooks at meetings.
  • 3-ring binder or files
    • This binder is for bulky items that do not easily fit in your bound notebook. This might include things such as FACS printouts or western films. Pages in the 3-ring binder need to be dated and referenced to a page/experiment in your notebook when appropriate.
  • Electronic documents
    • Every electronic file should be dated and labelled with your project identifier and a brief description (e.g. 2015_08_14_CRISPR_TEF1repression).
    • Electronic files should be kept in your folder on the lab server (in progress). Megan will have access to these. Your electronic files should not be kept on your personal laptop (though of course you may keep working versions there while you are working with them).
  • Excel Sheet or Table
    • I highly recommend keeping an excel sheet/table of every experiment you do for your project and a brief summary of what the experiment was meant to do. It is also useful to start labeling experiments by which figure in a paper you think they will become (as you get closer to this point). This method has saved me a lot of time and headache. Please come ask Megan if you would like to see what such a table should look like.
  • Powerpoint
    • I highly recommend keeping a running powerpoint of your project. This powerpoint should include main background information, figures with explanations of what you think they mean, etc. This powerpoint will also be useful to you at “wheel” meetings. Please see Megan if you would like to see an example.