As a research scientist or researcher, you must spend probably the same amount of time on data management as you do on generating data when it comes to lab management. You should take some time before starting a project to plan how you’ll record daily information. Ultimately, you have to have a map that collaborators can follow so that they’ll understand your research. Here’s how you build an accurate map.
Where Should You Put your Daily Experiments?
A lab notebook is the traditional recording tool. More often than not, however, these notebooks become filled with sloppy handwriting as you become engrossed in your experiment. Several years later, you look at your notes and can’t understand your writing. While keeping a lab notebook is vital, you should also consider lab information system software to make recording easier and as a backup for your data.
What Other Things Should You Document?
While your number one priority is recording your actual experiment, documenting how you analyzed your data is equally vital. You should document things, statistics, and software you used. It’s also a great idea to document how everything you performed compares to other similar or relevant papers or experiments.
How are You Going to Manage your Electronic Data?
Yes, you use lab information system software for data management and other stuff, but you should likewise think about backing up all your data. It’s very easy to lose sight of your data if you have thousands of them, and electronic data could easily be lost or corrupted during a power outage or software crash. Ensure that you store your data in multiple locations—lab books, software programs, and the cloud—and in formats that are easily accessible, says an expert from Labworks.com.
Are You Forgetting Anything Else?
You may think that anything else is inconsequential to your experiment, but you might be wrong. And because you wouldn’t know these things at first, it’s useful to take screenshots or photos while you’re conducting your experiment so that you can pass these on to your colleagues or other parties. Consider documenting your instruments, equipment settings, including their models and makes, recommended storage tips for chemicals and the like.
Some time and preparation before starting your experiment will really save you tons of stress and time later on. While this could take sufficient work, the payoff will all be worth it. Lastly, remember that you’ve already mastered science, so lab management should be a breeze.