The day you decide to make analytical chemistry your future career you have decided to take upon yourself a great social responsibility which will rest on your ethical code of conduct. Job responsibilities of an analytical chemist has already highlighted such responsibilities. In order to carry out your duties as an analytical chemist you have to maintain a written record of daily activities with utmost sincerity. The topic has been covered to some extent in another article Why is it important to keep a record of your laboratory activities.
The present article discusses the significance of this practice from the perspective of analytical scientists engaged in different laboratories such as academic research laboratories, medical diagnosis laboratories, industrial laboratories, forensic science laboratories and regulatory laboratories.
Record keeping is a time-consuming activity and as a busy analytical chemist you would naturally wish to spend the same time in your testing activities. However, over a period of time you will realize the benefits of record-keeping and will begin to appreciate that it is just not possible to carry on without systematic record-keeping. Besides it is mandatory in the interest of your laboratory operations to maintain such records. On the other hand you will thank yourself for adhering to the practice right from day one of your career. The importance of record-keeping is also highlighted under good laboratory practices covered under ISO guidelines.
Academic Research Laboratories
Academic research is an ongoing process. It does not come to an end the day a student earns his degree and leaves the institution. Most of the research projects continue for even decades thereafter. Often the new researcher picks up from where the earlier one has left. For this reason it is important to maintain a systematic record of all laboratory activities. It is equally important to maintain a record of negative findings as the successors will not waste time in pursuit of such approaches. It is equally important to maintain a systematic record which would be useful at time of filing patents for any research and development activity
Medical Diagnosis Laboratories
Medical diagnosis laboratories play a crucial role in deciding the course of treatment. Hundreds of laboratories test several thousand samples of blood, urine and other body fluids each day. A record of testing activities includes procedures adopted, calibration records of instruments, reference standards used, etc. The information will help you defend your reports in case of disputes or treatments gone wrong.
Industrial analysis has a direct bearing on safe consumption of products such as pharmaceuticals, foods, building materials, packaging materials, fuels and lubricants, etc. Even decisions on dispatch of consignments are based on the pass or fail verdict given by the laboratory chemist. Such verdict can be communicated with confidence only if proper analysis records are maintained. Such records need to be preserved even beyond the expiry date of products to validate support against market complaints.
Forensic analysis is concerned with analysis of samples collected from scene of crime. The analysis reports helps build of foolproof conviction against the suspect and at same time acts as a life saver for the innocent convict. As such reports are admissible under law a systematic record-keeping of laboratory testing activity becomes mandatory.
Regulatory laboratories function at international and national levels and have a crucial role to play as they lay down safe acceptable limits on various chemicals or contaminants in natural resources and man-made materials. As the assigned limits have serious implications on consumer safety and trade it goes without saying that the laboratory testing be supported by documentary records. Such records play a significant role when deliberations are held in both national and international forums.