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Physics Documenting in Physics

  1. Sep 24, 2016 #1
    Is documentation and meticulous lab book keeping as big a part of theoretical physics as it is in experimental physics? From what I've seen, it seems like in experimental physics a big part is organizing files, noting where small changes have occurred, etc. Is it the same in theory? Does it vary by branches, and if so, in what branches would this be true?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    No. Most experiments have many people working on the same setup, so everything needs to be documented so one can know changes made by others. Some experiments are also quite tricky and it is important to know the exact conditions in which a particular data set has been taken.

    Theoreticians work much more by themselves and have less need to keep track of how a particular result was obtained. They are on average also much more sloppy (in my experience). :smile:
  4. Sep 24, 2016 #3
    Thank you so much for your answer! That's actually really nice to hear. I tend to get very focused on a problem sometimes and forget about other things until it's solved, so was curious if my not so great organizing skills would be a hamper me in the theory realm.
  5. Sep 24, 2016 #4


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    Science Advisor
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    I wouldn't take that as permission to allow yourself to remain disorganized. Even on the theoretical side of physics, there is still a great deal of collaborative work that goes on. And if your theoretical work involves a lot of computer simulations, it will pay in the long run to make sure you take the time to organize your results in a way that will allow you to find them months or even years down the road when you need to come back to them for whatever reason.
  6. Sep 25, 2016 #5
    I wasn't, I was just worried that it would be a huge part of it. I always do my best to be organized.
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