Importance of Control and Maintenance of a Laboratory Notebook

Importance of Control and Maintenance of a Laboratory Notebook
Entry of Data into Laboratory Notebook
Entry of Data into Laboratory Notebook

Record keeping of laboratory activities is an essential requirement under Good Documentary Practices (GDP). An earlier article covered the importance of keeping record of all laboratory activities.  A laboratory notebook is a record of experimental activities. In addition to the results a notebook includes following details:

  • Calculations
  • Experimental conditions
  • Observations
  • Weight records
  • Support data such as chromatograms, spectra, etc

The backup data available in the laboratory notebook is of use in case a recheck of obtained values becomes necessary. In such cases you can refer to the earlier conditions under which a particular analysis was carried out.

It is important is to bear in mind that :

  • Data should be recorded honestly and concurrently
  • Overwriting is not acceptable. Wrong entries should be crossed with a single line and correct entries made after putting initials and date over the corrected entries
  • Changes in any standard test procedure should bear authentication of authorized persons
  • Weighing records, absorbance readings, etc should be preserved in notebook or under reference in the data folder
  • Entries should be made with indelible ink and under no circumstances should pencil entries be permitted
  • It is illegal to make post dated or back dated entries in the notebook.

Issue and control of laboratory notebooks 

  • Each laboratory note notebook should be issued by laboratory incharge or quality assurance department and should be uniform in shape and size
  • Pages should be serially numbered so that no page can be removed
  • Enough space should be provided to show calculations alongside the entered data
  • No one should be permitted to take a laboratory notebook out of the laboratory premises
  • On completion each notebook should be returned to section in charge and only thereafter a fresh notebook should be issued. The section in charge should maintain a record of notebooks issued and received back
  • On leaving a job the notebook in possession of the analyst should be returned to the section head

A laboratory notebook is a sacrosanct laboratory document which can be relied upon by your successors for carrying forward your activities. It also serves for re-verification of some results in case of disputes. Even it can be produced as a legal document in case of commercial quality dispute or patent claims. Its proper maintenance and control thus becomes the responsibility of both the laboratory scientist as well as the laboratory manager.

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