Timetable : Come up with a timetable for doing each of the steps of your project and try to stick to it.

Interesting topics : Make a list of topics that interest you, things that you are really curious about and that you want to find answers to; explain how you came up with your topic, why you decided to do it.

Background research and literature review : Record your background research about your topic from books, journals, conference proceedings, magazines, people and companies. Keep a record about where you gathered your information for your bibliography/list of references and acknowledgements.

Hypothesis : write down what you think the results of your experiment will be based on the research that you’ve done.

Materials : List everything that you will need to do your experiment, such as equipment, ingredients, quantities of ingredients, measuring tools etc. Be very specific – give lots of details

Procedure : List the steps you will go through to do your experiment. If you make any changes to the procedure after you start your experiment, describe them in your logbook with an explanation about why you made the change(s) and if the change(s) will affect the results collected prior to the change.

Variables : List the controlled variables, the manipulated variable, and the responding variable.

Data : Record all of your measurements/raw data that you collected on data sheets in your logbook.

Results : Record your collected data in charts, tables, graphs, pictures and use these to help you explain what happened in your testing; describe any problems you might have had while you were testing , any changes that you had to make to your original plans, and whether those changes would affect the results collected before you made the changes.

Conclusions : Write down your conclusions, whether or not your hypothesis was correct and why. It is OK if your results do not support your hypothesis - the information you collected still supports science.

Recommendations / Applications : Make recommendations for improving your project, for further study, and applications I can make from my research.

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Before you start or re-start your journey with logbooks, we need to take a minute to think about why we are doing this. This is not a diary or a bullet journal, it’s not an arts and crafts project, it is a working tool.

The way we see it, your logbook serves multiple purpose:
  • Keep track of progress, main results or pending questions.
  • Keep notes on interesting pieces of the literature.
  • Mental Health boost.
Point number 1 is the most important and probably the one that we were all taught in school and at University (at least for scientists). It is important for reproducibility, and to pick up where you left off without sifting through pages of loose paper. It keeps me sane.

Point number 2 is made because most humans have trouble remembering facts. We have a short attention span and having to synthesise the information in our logbook helps our focus tremendously.

Point number 3 is for the mental health benefits. The logbook accomplishes two things:
a) Keeps track of your progress in a visible way.
b) Gives you a cathartic and productive activity to do for those times when data analysis is really not on the menu (everyone gets tired).

The important thing to remember though, is that your logbook is yours and it should serve you.

So take a little time to think “What will this accomplish for me?” and keep that in mind as you start setting it up and continue using it.