August 16, 2016 by Susan Matthews Categories: Solutions

Lab notebooks are staple tools for scientists and researchers. Many people at different research facilities, large companies and institutes of higher learning in and around Boston and Cambridge rely on them when doing experiments, research and field work. But here’s the problem: lab notebooks present many potential nightmare scenarios regarding lost data and misplaced information, virtually all of which become things of the past with the help of lab book scanning.

The Many Issues with Laboratory Notebooks

Lab notebooks, though super helpful during research and experiments, are made of paper. As such, they’re prone to disaster. Researchers spend weeks or years experimenting, taking notes and digging down into the essential truth of the subject they’re studying, and it’s such a shame that all of that info can disappear at a moment’s notice. Fire, flood or water damage, or simple misplacement are just a few of the different ways a researcher’s valuable work can go missing through no fault of his or her own.

And that’s without talking about how much damage theft and cheating can do. The work on the pages of a lab notebook is the intellectual property, in most cases, of the firm or university employing the scientist or researcher using it; as such, there are legal protections in place regarding that information. The lab notebook is the proof that a scientist or researcher had the breakthrough first while employed by that company. An inability to produce the notebook upon an audit or defense could potentially cost scientists, researchers and the companies they work for millions of dollars, not to mention the damage done to everybody’s reputations.

Scan Lab Books for Peace of Mind

Given the above, scanning lab notebooks should be an essential component of any firm employing scientists and researchers’ compliance and disaster recovery plans. Lab notebook scanning can be approached in two ways:

  1. The person using the notebook can wait until it’s full, in order to preserve the information in its entirety, as one cohesive body.
  2. The person can scan as they go, digitizing available information but keeping the notebook for continued use, with any new data able to be scanned and melded with the previous pages when ready.

In both cases, the research remains protected from catastrophe and available for review, further study, paper development and defense and any other research protocols necessary.

Data can be scanned in full digital color, as well, with images of every page. The scanned pages are loaded to a document management system that further secures the information and allows for quick information retrieval and, for items that are type printed, you can perform full-text searches to find particular passages. This not only helps with the work being done, but also in the event of audits or lawsuits; copies of the work can be turned over quickly without potentially compromising the notebook itself, nor the rest of the information in it.

Finally, cutting up a lab notebook is frowned upon and, in some cases, illegal. Your lab books should be scanned without breaking the binding.

Go with a Pro for your Lab Notebook Scanning Needs

Laboratory notebook scanning is a task best reserved for a professional scanning company. Firms that specialize in lab notebook scanning services can scan notebooks in whatever form is necessary, wherever the researcher or scientist is in his or her work, with no loss of data, no threat of accidental damage and no compromising of intellectual property. Lab professionals, research and development firms, and universities in and around Boston and Cambridge should very seriously consider lab notebook scanning, and pronto: it’s like insurance for your genius, and a way to preserve it digitally.

For more information on why lab book scanning is something every scientist and lab technician should use, read Lab Notebook Scanning: Five Things You Should Know.