Excellence in another area - Notebook

In an article by Elisabeth Pain which was published in Science magazine, multiple researchers were questioned on how to keep a good laboratory notebook and the importance of doing so. In brief, the contributors describe that notebooks are necessary for reproducibility, serve as reference for oneself and others, and are crucial to track experiments and results. In a notebook, ideas and design adaptations as well as outliers can be preserved and may justify later research choices. Further, a notebook helps claim intellectual property and demonstrate transparent, ethical, and clear scientific practice [1].
Inspired by this and motivated by the fact that an iGEM project aims to serve the whole iGEM and synthetic biology community by presenting reproducible data, we were particularly motivated to not only have a formally, but also content-related excellent notebook that is visually appealing. We documented our data on paper and on the Benchling software, thus sticking to regulations in Germany while also utilizing the power of online data storage. Formally, we made sure to adhere to the ”Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice” provided by the German Research Foundation [2]. We added detailed descriptions of the experimental approach, the exact date (or week in the Notebook summary) and location of the work, the team members involved, and special circumstances during the experiments. Our notebook aims at serving as a best practice example and to inspire future iGEM teams.
Since an iGEM project entails multiple people working on one project, we focused on having a consistent, clear, and detailed lab notebook, which can be read and understood by all team members. We achieved this for instance by tracking our results in properly-labelled and detailed figures with suitable descriptions (Fig. 1). We also provided conclusions and reflected on data to preserve our ideas for future design adaptations and the discussion of results.
Figure 1: Exemplary figure of a gel electrophoresis image with labelled samples and DNA ladder. Image taken from the notebook.

Figure 1: Exemplary figure of a gel electrophoresis image with labelled samples and DNA ladder. Image taken from the notebook.

The entries of our notebooks are summarized in the notebook on this wiki. Based on our consistent, clear and detailed documentation of experiments and results and the provided protocols, we believe to have provided a reproducible notebook which is in accordance with good scientific practice. As our project entailed many engineering cycles and troubleshooting attempts, we are confident to have contributed substantially to the iGEM and synthetic biology community with our notebook and thus nominate our notebook for excellence in another area.