*This post is in part inspired by this Chemmit thread*
I like the simple tips. The ones that make research a lot easier, but aren’t likely to be explicitly mentioned in an experimental or thesis. Here’s one of my favourites.
Every time you dry your compound, weigh the vial and mark the mass and a brief physical description in your lab book (if the compound may be unstable, take a TLC as well). Over the course of a standard reaction this gives you three to four data points; post reaction, post extraction, post purification/column (desired spot and major impurities) and post NMR.
It’s likely that you record at least some of these data points already, and filling in the gaps is unlikely to add much to your workflow. But, when your syntheses hit a rough patch and every reaction is spitting out a 20-40% yield, it can really help to go back and track the mass balance. A mysterious 35% drop in mass from the top of the column to the bottom or a new spot post extraction are easy to see, and can trim the troubleshooting period from a couple of hours to a few minutes.