Lab notebooks are good for writing down procedures, observations, conclusions and for drawing flow charts and diagrams by hand. However, in order to accommodate the increase of digital data collected, researchers have taped instrumentation and computer printouts onto the pages of their notebooks, or cross-referenced larger data sets by recording file names and locations in the notebook.
An ELN (electronic lab notebook) is a software tool that in its most basic form replicates an interface much like a page in a paper lab notebook. In this electronic notebook you can enter protocols, observations, notes, and other data using your computer or mobile device. This offers several advantages over the traditional paper notebook.
The number of available ELN tools is increasing and the functions of each are quickly changing. As a result, it may be confusing to evaluate all of the advantages and limitations of each when looking for the right solution for your project.
The Electronic Lab Notebook Matrix has been created to aid HMS researchers in the process of identifying a usable Electronic Lab Notebook solutions to meet their specific research needs. Through this resource, researchers can compare and contrast the numerous solutions available today, and also explore individual options in-depth.
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In the News
A recent Nature "News & Comment" article highlighted the "ELN Comparison Matrix" project completed by the HMS Data Management Working Group.
"How to pick an electronic laboratory notebook: Choosing wisely from a burgeoning array of digital tools can help researchers to record experiments with ease." Author: Roberta Kwok
The Electronic Lab Notebook Matrix, collated by Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, lists the details of more than 50 features for 27 ELNs.