Keeping a Lab book on Mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Chelinka, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I'm a science student and am sick of keeping my daily logs (eg experiments done, papers read etc) in a paper notebook. I'd like to keep my lab book electronically, but creating hundreds of individual entries on MS word seems a bit tedious and difficult to organize and keep an overview of.

    So I was wondering if there was anybody out there who keeps electronic lab books on their macs? Through some kind of notebook or journaling app on mac I guess?

    Any recommendations?

  2. macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    What do you mean by hundreds of individual entries? If you mean that each is a sperate file, then you're not using Word to it's potential.

    You would want a table of contents so you can find stuff in a single document. You might even want to create an index for a cross reference of related items.

    The biggest part of the organization will be using chapters and section numbers correctly to divide up each day and separate days from each other. And of course you would still want to use one file per lab course. Without looking at your written notebooks, I would say you would want each day to be a separate chapter. Among other printing options, I believe word allows you to specifically print individual chapters which would let you print out everything for a specific day.
  3. macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2011
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2013
    Thanks for the replies!

    Sorry if I wasnt so clear. I am a PhD student in life sciences and am always logging everything I do every single day in a dedicated lab book (so it looks roughly like this:

    So I write down a certain experiment I did to the last detail, glue clips of an important paper I read into it etc. The thing with Word is that it will become a very very loooong document and it'll start getting clunky and difficult to scroll few hundred pages up and down to log my next day's experiments and compare it to something I did 3 weeks ago etc.

    So an app which could efficiently log entries for every day separately without it becoming one long and huge document would be good. Something that would make it easy to jump back and forth between individual days. I'll look into the four you recommended.
  5. macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2012
    The application you are looking for is evernote. It's free on all platforms (including ipad/iPhone) for 50mb/month uploads, and I store all my science research projects on there. You can add entries on a daily basis, attach all manner of files, images, links etc, and its all searchable.
  6. macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2011
    As a PhD student, I think it will be important for you to have as much of your notes, documents, etc as electronically searchable as possible. You want to be preparing to take what you have done and write a dissertation at some point.

    For dissertation writing, I strongly recommend Scrivener. You could also create what Scrivener calls a project to hold your daily notes, PDFs, etc in ways that make it easy to see what you've done each day.

    Evernote as recommended by rfle500 is also a strong contender for notes.
  7. macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2008
    For that DevonThink may shine, check it out.
  8. macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2007
    As others have said Evernote is a great application for this type of thing. Another possibility is NoteTaker.

    I've been a lab manager for over 20 years so I would give you one piece of advice, be sure whatever you do is OK with your P.I. Some grants require that lab notebooks be kept in a particular way, numbered pages and carbon copy requirements are common. Although this sounds old fashioned it is done because of patent law issues. If in the future you feel that you would want to patent something you want to give you and your lab the best chance of doing it smoothly.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    ^ what he said above.

    I'm from the era where some things just seem easier to do on paper, still, due to various idiosyncratic requirements, and I don't have time to interrupt my regular workflow to learn something new.

    That being said, common solutions are:
    Notepad apps like M$ OneNote: My favorite is Growly Notes, others use Circus Ponies note book

    Bigger, more complex database solution: DevonThink ... I still can't get this into my workflow, but it looks like the industrial solution.
  10. macrumors 65816


    Apr 13, 2011
    Yojimbo isn't bad for keeping lab-book style collections of documents. Unless you want it to, it won't dump your data into some dubiously secured cloud location.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Oct 8, 2012
    Findings App

    I don't know if I it's ok to promote my own software here, but it seems relevant to your question:

    It comes with a 30-day free trial and is only $29 as an introductory price for version 1.0. Let me know if you have any questions!
  12. macrumors 65816

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    For Security i'd build a quick CRUD style, localhost web application. ( basically a customized blog )
    If security wasn't an absolute* requirement, I'd upload everything to a remotehost so that I could get at my notes with my phone, tablet or another computer.

    *the data could still be sent encrypted and would still be password protected, so pretty safe for most applications. This is how I store alot of my coding notes: TODOs and TODONEs
    I can give clients access to the notes as well for their application, you could do the same for colleagues.

Share This Page