Attention to Detail
Whether a project succeeds or fails is often in the details. Make sure to slow down and pay attention to the little things, plus record detailed observations in the lab notebook. Small changes in ingredients or processing steps can change the final product. If you think there may be a small problem with your project, make sure to discuss it. Small problems have a tendency to turn into larger problems down the line.
Product Development Lab Notebook Expectations
It is important to keep an accurate and legal lab notebook during the product development process. The format to follow is listed below.
- Enter the project name in the front of the notebook.
- List the names of your team members and record your full signatures and initials.
- Allow room for a Table of Contents (usually 2-3 pages). Table of Contents should include each lab date, description of the entry, and corresponding page numbers. The entry needs to be detailed enough to know what was done in the lab that day. For instance, “Formulation Day 5” is not descriptive enough, but “Ran Drum Dryer to Produce Dried Sweet Potato” is descriptive enough.
- Enter each day in chronological order – do not leave spaces or blanks to be filled in later.
- As your project progresses, record a complete, factual account.
- Organization each day should include the date including the year, objectives, materials and methods, results and conclusions, and plans for the next class period.
- The project notebook is provided for the course.
- One notebook per team – your team is responsible for the notebook.
- Treat the notebook as a legal document.
- Information in the notebook should be considered confidential at the corporate level.
- Only team members should write in the notebooks.
- Notebooks should be bound or electronic.
- Use black or blue permanent ink only.
- Enter data immediately and not on scraps of paper or paper towels to be copied later.
- Keep your writing legible, accurate, neat, and clean.
- Never erase, scratch out, or scribble over an error.
- ONLY single lined-out errors with initials and corrections next to the lined-out errors are acceptable.
- Record your formula and procedures in detail.
- Include everything in sufficient detail for another person to duplicate your work.
- At the end of each research period, line out blank spaces, have all team members sign, and have your supervisor sign and date.
- Any innovative idea should be documented by the inventor.
- Complete notebooks should never be underestimated – and should be treated as an integral part of the job.