"It should be painfully clear to every scientist now that if they have good record-keeping habits, they're not going to get themselves into that kind of bind in the future," says Howard M. Kanare, manager of chemical services for Construction Technology Laboratories in Skokie, Ill., and author of Writing the Laboratory Notebook (American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., 1985). Keeping a good notebook is a skill that goes with the territories of science and cuts across all boundaries. "Students need to keep good lab notes because they are going to use their notes in the future to pass classes and may use them as references for their dissertation," says Kanare. "For the industrial scientist, meticulous notes are essential for documentation with regard to patent protection. And, for other industrial or academic researchers, carefully kept notebooks not only provide documentation of work, but also improve productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency."

Says Mountcastle, "It's...

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