Why keep a lab notebook?
The lab notebook is an important tool used to document timelines and inventor contributions when a patent is filed. A patent is granted to the inventor who was first to conceive the invention. The notebook establishes a permanent record of events that can be used to support your claims.
What should be recorded?
• Raw data and final results of experiments
• Protocols and designs of experiments
• Calculations on which results are based
• Details of equipment use
• Details of research and developmental efforts
• Ideas generated in meeting- list who contributed to the idea
• Dates when idea was formed and when work was started & completed
• Plans for future experiments
How should information be recorded?
• Use archival-quality, bound notebooks with numbered pages
• Each project should have its own notebook or set of notebooks
• Number each notebook in multiple-notebook projects
• Make entries in permanent ink
• Use consistent nomenclature
• Enter information on the same day as the event
• Do not skip pages or leave large empty areas
• Write legibly
• Draw a line through discarded entries
• Sign and date each entry & have the entry witnessed by someone knowledgeable about the work.
How should notebooks be stored?
• Maintain notebooks in a central location, preferably a fireproof safe or file cabinet
• If there is a sprinkler system, plastic bags should be used.
• Store notebooks in a cool, dry place away from damaging light ,corrosive agents and organic fumes.
How long do I need to keep my notebooks?
It can take 2-6 years to obtain a patent. Patents typically run for 20 years. Notebooks need to be available for the life of the patent. Notebooks are a great help in cases of infringement and litigation.
A note about electronic records:
Electronic notebooks are held to the same requirements as hard copy notebooks. Electronic notebooks should be copied to Read-only electronic formats with a date stamp on a regular basis. All electronic documents MUST be convertible to a human-readable format. Electronic records need to be updated as the technology changes to meet these requirements.
Lab notebooks are the property of the University, not the individual.