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Organization & Productivity

10 Tips For Organizing Your Lab Book

Writing your lab book is easy to put off as it never seems quite as important as splitting your cells or running that gel. I’m sure, like me, you’ve said to yourself it’s fine if I leave it for a day or maybe even a week, as I’ve got all my notes to work from.…

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6 Ways to Maximize the Lifetime of Your Reagents

Reagents are expensive and are a significant cost to your lab. You know what to do to keep others from stealing your reagents. But contamination, improper storage and “lost” batches will all eat into your stock of reagents, bump up your consumables costs and waste your precious time. Unless you take steps to prevent them, that…

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The A-Z List of Things that go “Missing” in the Lab

Here is a fun list of things that you are most likely to lose to light-fingered colleagues or nocturnal ghosts of academia. The emphasis here is on fun, so as disclaimers often go, if your experience proved somewhat different, this list “does not represent the actions of every individual or ghost who you might encounter…

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Sharing and Transferring Gigabytes of Data

Great Scott! 1.21 gigabytes of data!!! The conundrum is not ‘Where can I store massive amounts of information’, but ‘How can I quickly share massive amounts of information all at once?!’ I’m certain this is a topic we have all wrestled with before, so here are 5 quick ways to send research data out to…

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Tips for Uncluttering your Email Box

In the hectic world we live in you may not be away from your computer for more than an hour and the emails pile up. Setting aside a couple of time blocks each day to spend answering emails and following some of the tips below will help keep on top of things. 1)      Set up…

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Best Practice for Cataloging Your Samples

The correct documentation and storage of your laboratory samples may be a tedious process, but it will make your life a lot easier in the long run. The last thing any scientist wants when trying to complete a key last experiment for a publication is not being able to find or identify a critical sample.…

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10 Commonly Broken Good Laboratory Practices

What comes to mind when you think of good laboratory practices? To many, good laboratory practices describes the best conduct while working at the bench. The laboratory is a complex environment and understanding how small, seemingly innocuous, actions can have such a huge impact on the outcome of an experiment will help you to ensure…

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How to Keep Track of Lab Orders

How often have you torn apart the lab looking for the reagent you need right now for some thawing samples?  That reagent which you (possibly) ordered a week ago and which (maybe) came in yesterday?  If your answer isn’t “just once in my entire career,” please read on!  I will outline four steps to setup…

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Top 10 Most Hated Lab Tasks

Following closely on the heels of Cristy’s article “How to Clean a Waterbath”, I’d like to take a moment to rant about a few other hated (and carefully avoided) lab tasks.  Here are my top ten LEAST favorite things to do in the lab: Cleaning out the vacuum trap – truly gag-worthy…you never know what…

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Making a List, Checking it Twice: 5 End-of-the-year Lab Tasks

A lot of effort is spent on running experiments…and occasionally it can feel like an almost equal amount of effort is spent on administrative tasks! Policy compliance is important for keeping everyone in the lab safe, but it can be difficult to keep track of it all when your primary duties are at the bench.…

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Who Else Wants to Save Money on Lab Supplies?

Everyone loves a bargain! These days, more and more labs need to stretch every dollar as far as it will go. So how do you keep your lab well-supplied on a tight budget? To get a better deal on products you might choose to shop around, buy in bulk or haggle with vendors. However, if…

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Make Your Excel Worksheets Database Ready

In a previous article (Tips for Constructing Lab Databases in Excel by Emily Crow), BitesizeBio readers began a brief, but spirited commentary on the application of using true databases (MySQL, Access, etc.) versus Excel “databases”. While Excel can be quite useful to organize information (for example, an inventory of reagents, plasmids, laboratory items – even…

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A Painless Way to Extract Data from Raw Text Files

These days, raw text data sets can be spat out at you from all manner of instrumentation. This automation is efficient, however it can give you a headache when it comes to extracting very specific information from reams of characters and numbers within a raw data file. Brute force (editing or extracting data from the…

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8 Steps to More Successful Experiments

One of the critical skills required for any scientist is the ability to consistently  design and carry out successful experiments. There are of course many variables that can cause an experiment to fail, but there are some basic steps that, if taken routinely, can increase your chances of success every time. After many failed, and …

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Tips for Constructing Lab Databases in Excel

Good organization is essential for keeping a lab in good running order.  Databases of strains, plasmids, primers, and stocks are useful for keeping track of your materials, and allow your work to be continued easily after you’ve left the lab.  In this article, I’ll talk about a few tools in Microsoft Excel that will make…

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