Here is a scenario: you have just discovered the cure for aging. You go to proclaim your life’s work, all in a single vial, and then the unexpected happens – you trip and fall, breaking the vial. At first, you do not panic; you will just recreate it. However, panic mode starts to set in when you realize that, in your hubris, forgot to right your notes down in laboratory notebooks.
Laboratory notebooks are unfazed by the popularity of smartphones, computers, and any other electronic capable of streamlining the process. Think of it like this: using technology for notation is fine, an invaluable tool, but what happens when you do not have access to it? Advance technology or not, any student in the scientific community is probably going to have some form of bound lab notebook that they do research out of. It is like a backup for your backup, a plan C.
Medicines and vaccines would take longer than they already do to develop, 10 to 15 years, if meticulous data was not constantly kept. Do you think that the estimated 9,550 biochemistry degrees given to students in 2016 were done so if those students did not practice proper notation? Do you think
Take the pharmaceutical sphere, for example. A large portion of the global pharmaceutical market rests with the United States at about 45 percent, with the entirety of it estimated to reach the tune of $1.12 trillion in 2022. This means a lot of money is going into these fields, which also means if all records are strictly kept on a digital media and is lost, including backups, the pharmaceutical market can take a massive hit. And just imagine what job growth would be like when it is already predicted to rise by 3 percent by the time 2024 rolls by.
Benefits Of Laboratory Notebooks
The simplified version consists of three tenants: work, ideas and partners.
Obviously the first is a no-brainer because that is the purpose of laboratory notebooks. It is a grocery list of your work. Keeping strict notes on the work you have done allows, not only you, but for others to follow your work. When it comes to discovery, your work is going to be scrutinized, it will be put through its paces, and that is okay! That is the nature of the scientific community because if your work can be successfully duplicated, it can move to its next phase whether that be for public use, military use or what have you.
The second – ideas – are also as clear as the first. While you experiment with one project, it might lead to epiphanies or new discoveries which might help direct you to something new. Sometimes these ideas lead you to discoveries that you might not be able to take advantage of due to expertise, but another scientist could piggyback off of.
Which leads us to the last tenant: partners. Oftentimes a project will involve more than one person. Like mentioned before, keeping notes in laboratory notebooks can help other people validate your work. However, it also helps any partners you have working on the project as well. And just as important, you may need the expertise of another individual that you have very little, if at all, experience in. This provides a median for everyone involved to double-check each other, fresh eyes on a problem that a partner might have missed.