Record-keeping Notes

Not Voodoo Home / Comments? / Anatomy of a reaction

A Perfect Reaction: You are about to write a paper. You have fully characterized your compound, so you do not need to rerun any experiments before submission. Also, you have written an exact description of your experiment in your notebook, which another chemist can reproduce without further consultation, on the first try.

A Nightmare Scenario: It's time to write your thesis. You find that characterization data is missing, and need to repeat some experiments you ran earlier. Your notebook is not very detailed, and you have trouble reproducing the results, and have to work out the experimental conditions and a purification protocol all over again.

Common Rookie Mistakes: Record-Keeping

Step by step:

  1. Develop a method for recording the literature searches you have done.

    Tips (see all):

  2. Develop a filing system for literature/ experimental procedures that is consistent and allows you to find things easily. Everyone has different methods that make sense to them.
  3. Ask your advisor how to organize your notebook entries- each group has different standards.
  4. Leave space for an index at the beginning of the notebook, and record each experiment and the results by page number.
  5. Write a complete experimental procedure.

  6. Develop a consistent labeling system for experiments that produce more than one product.
  7. Develop a method for organizing your spectra.
  8. Develop a method for organizing storage of your synthetic samples

See also: Rookie Mistakes, For First-time Researchers, For First-year PhD Students, How to Write an Experimental