Rules of Conduct - Good Scientific Practice

In scientific research data includes the materials, products, procedures and other data sources that are part of the research project. Despite the principal investigator and the research team's work on the project, the sponsoring institution typically maintains ownership of a project's data as long as the PI submitted the grant through that institution and is employed by them. In other words the data are owned by the university. This is the reason why all documentations and recordings of the experiments have to stay in the laboratory.


Ensuring reliability and validity of the data are equally important for successful research. When data collection is carried out according to these two rules, researchers will be able to accurately assess, replicate and disseminate their results.


Collecting reliable data:

Data collection guidelines and methodologies should be carefully developed. The researchers must determine what sort of data will be collected and how this data will be analyzed. For data to be considered reliable, data collection should occur consistently and systematically throughout the course of the project.

Team members should be able to answer any question about a project, including the following:

  • purpose behind the research
  • why a particular methodology is chosen
  • how data was collected and analyzed
  • if unexpected results or significant errors were encountered
  • the implication of the research and future directions.

This requires writing down all you encounter, all chemicals used (incl. Cat#, Lot# or Batch#) in your laboratory notebook.


Collecting valid data - Record Keeping

The laboratory notebook is your scientific diary. It should contain:

  • the date of the day
  • what the purpose of your experiment is
  • what material you used (incl. mundane info regarding the solutions and chemicals you used, any change of your routine and machines that you needed to replace due to malfunction)
  • where and how you stored the material
  • the conclusion of your experiment series (this can be the day itself as well as the end result being discussed).
  • Errors should be marked and dated but never erased. This way, they can provide a quick visual account of any changes or errors that have occurred. In addition, it would not be the first time that an error pointed to the right direction the investigation should go.

One should always be aware of all the guidelines that might apply to the project's implementation and dissemination, including special regulations that involve animal subjects, hazardous materials or other controlled biological agents. Every research team member should be aware of project guidelines and standards for collecting valid data, to ensure consistency throughout the project.