Grinnell System – Field Journal

Spring nature journal page
Grinnell style field journal

A field journal is what professional naturalists and biologists use. It is a nature journal which uses the scientific method.

It is where you write out your field experiences and observations in a diary-like format.

The entries are written in complete sentences and narrate what was observed.

It is drawn from the notes taken in the field notebook. You basically take the scribbled notes and partial sentences of your notebook and turn them into full coherent sentences.

It is ideally written in the afternoon or evening of the observation. Don’t let too much time past (even 24 hours) before writing. Memories fade very quickly.

It includes information gathered based on the observation checklist and what you observed. Also how you did something, such as finding tracks and signs, where you looked for plants and animals.

Write on only one side of the paper. Usually the right side.

This leaves the left side for maps, photos, sketches that complement what is written on the right page.

If you are left- handed you can reverse this.

The book usually covers one calendar year.

The journal can be in many forms. The original form Grinnell recommended was a 6X9 loose-leaf notebook. But, 6X9 loose-leaf paper that doesn’t yellow is hard to find. I tend to like a hardbound, Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large( Affiliate link to ) Probably because at the end of the year. I have a pretty illustrated book. 

My book on using the Grinnell Scientific Nature Journal method is available through

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