Requirements for different types of research and laboratories are likely to vary, but in all cases a well-maintained notebook provides a reliable tool for the demonstrable recording of research methods and results. It is a valid record that preserves the researcher’s, employer’s or investigator’s rights to the research results and can help protect intellectual property.
Detailed notes are the only way to keep track of what you’ve done and how you’ve done it. In addition, the formal nature of the lab notebook ensures that certain entries are always taken, and that they are taken in the same way. The lab notebook is a confidential document, the contents of which can only be seen by co-workers and supervisors.
Careful maintenance of research records is very useful in proving intellectual property claims. For research whose results may be patentable or involve intellectual property, these records are very useful in filing a patent application and also help you defend against a potential challenge to your patent or invention. Well-crafted research records can prove that you are the first person to come up with an invention.
The handwritten form of the hard-bound notebook is often used because it allows information to be recorded in a simple and permanent way, while the tools needed (notebook and pen) are not dependent on an external power source, are readily available and very easily portable. At the same time, the hardcover allows protection against tampering with the records and thus effective control.
For electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), it is recommended to use existing dedicated web-based applications to ensure the security of the records and their efficient maintenance and control. There are many different ELNs that can offer a range of features and can be tailored to specific needs. One example of such a tool is Labfolder, which is used by some research teams of the Max Planck Institutes (about 1500 users out of a total of about 16000 researchers) and is system-integrated into the Max Planck Digital Library. However, its basic version is available to try out at no cost.
National Cancer Institute, USA.gov
National Institutes of Health, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
University College London
University of York
Martina Plisová, Ph.D., Intellectual property basics for researchers: inventions and patents, PDF prezentace, 2022