Open the following for a sample of a log book page. Log book instructions.doc (217 kB)
The logbook is a crucial part of any research project.
It is a detailed account of every phase of your project, from the initial brainstorming to the final research report. The logbook is evidence that certain activities occurred at specific times.
Following the pointers below will help keep you organized. It's a great opportunity to show off all of your hard work and impress the science fair judges!
The Log Book
- The first page of the log book must be the Title Page. It should contain the title of the project, the name of the student, the name of the teacher, and the name of the school.
- The second page will become the Table of Contents. Once the log book is finished the table of contents will list page numbers and what is found on each.
- Make logbook entries in pen, not in pencil; this is a permanent record of all of your activities associated with your project. When a mistake is made the error is marked out neatly (no white-out).
- Organize your logbook. Make a table of contents, an index, and create tabs for different sections within your logbook. This helps keep you organized for different activities. For example, have a data collection section, a section with contacts, sources, etc. and a section of schedule deadlines.
- Always date every entry, just like a journal. Entries should be brief and concise. Full sentences are not required.
- Don't worry too much about neatness. Your logbook should be organized, but keep in mind that this is a personal record of your work. Think of the logbook as your "Diary" for the science fair. It's not just for recording data during the experimental phase of your project and it's not just for your teacher.
- The logbook should be used during all phases of your project for jotting down ideas or thoughts for a project, phone numbers, contacts or sources and prices of supplies, book references, diagrams, graphs, figures, charts, sketches, or calculations. Log entries should include your brainstorming, calculations, library/internet searches, phone calls, interviews, meetings with mentors or advisors, notes from tours of laboratories, research facilities and other related activities. Remember that it's documentation of your work.
- Use the logbook regularly and write down everything, even if it seems insignificant; it could later be extremely useful. For example, you may find yourself frantically searching for the title of a crucial reference the night before the fair. Make sure that you describe things completely, so that when you read your notes weeks or months later you will be able to accurately reconstruct your thoughts and your work.
- Glue, staple or tape any loose papers into your logbook, such as photocopies of important items. Loose papers look messy and tend to fall out and go missing. If you have several pages to include you may want to download and print off your own version of the logbook and organize all of these pages into a binder along with your own table of contents.
- Include a reflections section in your logbook. For example, what, if anything would I do differently next time? What part of the experiment could be changed to improve the experimental procedure?
- Always include any changes made to procedures, as well as mishaps, failures, or mistakes. As human beings, all of us make mistakes! (i. e. “1/4/05 my cat, Sheba scratched the pots of soil, and ate 4 of my 12 plants. I will have to replant everything! I need to protect my plants from the silly cat. Maybe I should try putting a screen around the pots or keep the cat outside!”)
- Include any and all observations made during your experiment. In other words, record ALL data directly in your logbook. If this is not possible, then staple photocopies of data in the logbook.