I had a question about best practices for keeping a lab journal (specifically, should one only record experiments, or should one also include research for experiments, or time spent looking around on say McMaster Carr for parts). Is this on topic or off topic?

Note: I posted this question on physics meta as well, and received a middling response that leaned toward not on topic. However, I did get a comment which said "there's certainly a chance that it will be on-topic at Academia" so I'm asking here.

1 Answer 1


You might have a too much idealized view of the lab activity. I work in an experimental field related to physics and I visited several laboratories around the world: there's really no uniform way of keeping track of lab experiments, even within the same lab. In large experiments like those run by particle physicists there are probably standard practices, but in small labs, if there are five people working at five different experiments, you will probably find five different ways of logging the lab activity.

Some use a lab journal, on paper or electronic, recording almost everything (but I've never met anyone recording the attempts at finding parts), some just record the results in a computer folder with a few notes.

In addition to this, practices might vary a lot between fields: biologists might have different needs with respect to physicists.

Thus, I think that your question could be on topic here, but it's at risk of being closed as too broad. If you ask it, try to narrow it down as much as possible.

  • Okay, thank you!
    – auden
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 14:27
  • 1
    My flat-mate is an experimental particle physicist in a big experiment. He thinks you may have an idealized view on their lab activity ;).
    – nabla
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:35
  • @nabla Hahaha, good to know! :-) Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:48

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