Laboratory journal

Pharmaceutical research and development work aim to produce effective and safe pharmaceuticals. Accurate documentation and description of experimental work is required to ensure the quality of the data used in further development and research, and ultimately forms the basis for approval of new drugs.

In order for you to learn to document, you will continuously practice keeping a laboratory journal during your education. At the beginning of the programme, you will receive a book (laboratory journal) that you should fill out each time you carry out laboratory work (unless other special instructions are given).

In a laboratory journal, the pages should be numbered in consecutive order. Before starting an experiment, name the experiment and write it as a heading on the next blank page in the journal. Indicate the dates of the experiment as well. Also enter the experiment name and page reference in the table of contents on the first page.

Begin by specifying the chemicals and equipment used, as well as the instructions on which you are basing your experiment. It can be taken from a lab tutorial, other written or oral instructions or scientific publications.

Describe how the risk analysis is done and note the most important measures taken to minimise the risk during the laboratory session.

The execution should be described as the experiment is conducted, but not in too much detail. Include only what is important to understand how the experiment can be repeated, as well as important steps and observations (colour change, gas evolution, odour, dissolution, time aspects, etc.) that affect the results. Also state deviations, that is what happens in a way not descibed by the instructions and plans – remember that it is more important to learn to clearly report deviations than to try to hide that you have made a mistake!

When you carry out the laboratory work, continuously write down everything that is necessary to understand how the work is conducted. For example, when weighing a substance: Which substance? What mass? What equipment? Use an ink pen, to be able to show that no one has manipulated the raw data afterwards. This is an important principle for creating confidence in raw data in research and development work.

It is important to note all data directly in the lab journal, no loose notes must be used! This reduces the risk of errors and confusion. If you make a mistake in the journal, cross out the incorrect information and write the correct one clearly next to it.

Further reading:

Laboratory journal checklist

Back to the Guide to laboratory components