Today my lab informed me that I need to keep a physical record of all the computational work I do. For context: I work in medical school in New York that does translational medicine.
From reading this forum, I know that there are electronic notebooks out there such as http://ipython.org/notebook.html and this is something I intend to look into more, but I don't have anyone in my lab to talk to about best practices. Im pretty new to keeping a lab notebook in the first place; I understand that the guiding principle is "Can someone else re-create your work with only your notebook as a reference?"
My specific concerns are:
All of my code has pretty decent documentation so I could quickly print that out but does that make it intellectual property of the lab? Can I re-use it later if I change jobs or potentially sell it? What, if anything, should I do about "ownership" of my code beyond putting my name in the documentation?
A bunch of my work has been Perl scripting for purposes of re-formatting Excel spread sheets; do you think I should print out before-and-after versions of the Excel files I've modified or is that overkill? Is it normal for multi-page spreadsheets to get printed out and stapled into lab notebooks?
I've produced numerous R graphics for exploratory reasons; should I print all of those out with notes explaining how they informed my thought process or would it be good enough to just print out the ones that make their way into a paper submission or a poster or something?
Some of the soft-ware I use is web-based and requires a subscription to access; should I be concerned about revealing their intellectual property if I take screen shots and explain how I used the soft-ware?
I know that some of the answers to my questions might depend on specifics I haven't supplied. At this point, I'm just interested in getting an idea of how other bioinformaticians keep notebooks and what are some good resources I can use to learn more about the best practices. Thank you.
Having spoken to my bosses again, their main concerns can be summarized by the following two quotes:
- "A lab notebook is a legally-binding document which records everything you did in the lab; if its not written down it didn't happen"
- "At some point in the future, we want to know what we did and why"