Keeping a good lab-book or log-book is an essential part of your research work. The log book should be used to write down your plans for the project and to keep a record of the work undertaken, including any notes from meetings.
The log book should be used as a place to regularly record how your project is going and written at the time of the event so that the notebook becomes a diary and working document prepared in real time. All entries should be dated and recorded in chronological order so it is clear how the project is progressing throughout the year and if hand written the log book entries should be legible!
For lab-based projects this will usually be a physical notebook. For desk-based projects electronic versions are also acceptable.
A lab book is an official document provided by your research place (i.e. your department, University, the lab in an industry where you are working, etc.) where you will keep records of your daily work in the lab. You should include protocols, results, and any other type of observation. There is a set of rules described in the tips tab for keeping a good lab-book, but overall we can say that a lab book should be well organised and informative.
There are a numerous things that could be recorded in your log book and the list below provides a few suggestions, however it is up to you to decide what to record in your log book. If in doubt speak with your supervisor about what they expect you to write in your log book and the amount of detail required.
Things that could be recorded in a log book:
Throughout the project you need to keep an account of the work you are undertaking in a log book and it may be suitable to record this information electronically. If you decide to keep an electronic log book then at the end of the project this will need to be printed out and submitted as a hard copy along with your final project portfolio. Before setting up an electronic log book check with your supervisor that this format is acceptable for the project you are about to undertake.
The log book could be entirely electronic or you could keep a hand written log book and stick in print outs, for example spreadsheets of collated search terms, as required. There is no one piece of software that you are required to use to produce an electronic notebook, it is up to you to decide which piece of software would be most suitable. However if you are producing an entirely electronic log book then it is advisable to have one master log book that contains all the relevant information and if necessary import work into this, such as graphs and spreadsheets, from other programs.
Software that could be used to produce an electronic log book:
Do not forget to keep at least one independent backup of all electronically stored data.