Electronic Lab Notebooks: What They Are (and Why You Need One)

Electronic Lab Notebooks: What they are (and why you need one)

Your Key Questions Answered - For Research Scientists

Two scientists at a lab bench with ELN on computer screen

Have you, or your lab, considered getting an electronic lab notebook? Are you not sure if the ELN will be good for your lab? Do you have lots of ELN questions? You’re not alone.

Research scientists all over the world are making the switch from using old-fashioned paper lab notebooks to adopting a modern electronic lab notebook. And for good reason.

Electronic lab notebooks are powerful technologies, so there are multiple factors to consider. This article will help you understand the benefits of moving your lab notebooks onto a digital environment to help you accelerate the pace of your scientific discoveries.

Table of Contents

  • "9" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    Lab Wide Research Data Accessibility

  • "10" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    Electronic Lab Notebooks Positively Impact Team Work

  • "11" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    ELNs and Inventory Tracking

  • "12" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    Adhering To Good Laboratory Practices

  • "13" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    Electronic Lab Notebooks And LIMS

  • "14" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    How To Choose An ELN

  • "15" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    Return on Investment for Electronic Lab Notebooks

  • "15" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    Choosing Where Your ELN Data Lives

  • "16" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

    ELNs Keep Up With The Digital Revolution

Collaborative Drug Discovery Logo
"1" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

What Is An Electronic Lab Notebook?

An Electronic Lab Notebook (or ELN) is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a digital version of the traditional lab notebook. It’s a place where you can record and store your experimental results.

Unlike a traditional lab notebook, an electronic lab notebook allows you to access, share and analyze that data in a way that is not possible with a paper lab notebook. Instead of just being paper and pen, an electronic lab notebook is a sophisticated software platform that allows you to integrate important information about your experiments into one digital place.

It provides similar functions as your traditional paper notebook, but it does it better than your paper notebook could ever do - because information can be reused for subsequent experiments, searched across all experiments, and selectively shared.

Since the vast majority of research data is digital to begin with, the ELN makes printing out and then cutting and pasting results into a paper notebook obsolete. The ELN also spells the end of illegible handwriting or damaged notebook pages that make reading past experimental results or procedures impossible. The ELN is making manual notebook use obsolete entirely - and for good reasons.

Even if your lab already has it’s procedures in digital form, where are they stored? Are they secure? Who can access it? Does your whole team have access to the key documents they need or are things is disparate places on individual computers? These are essential questions that protect the integrity of your work, your lab, and your intellectual property.

An electronic lab notebook provides the ability to have your procedures, your raw data, and your analyzed results all in one secure place. While there are a variety of electronic lab notebooks available for researchers, it’s important to evaluate the quality of those ELNs and to decide if the ELN meets the needs of your lab. There are important questions to consider. For example, is it a collaborative ELN for working with colleagues with complementary expertise? Is it directly integrated with my database?  Is it easy to get started?

scientist-reviewing-paper-notes
"2" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Can An ELN Adequately Replace Paper Lab Notebooks?

The paper lab notebook has been around for centuries. Scientific breakthroughs from the 18th century through to today have at one point been recorded in a lab notebook. Writing in a lab notebook can feel like you are connecting with some of history’s science greats. In the words of Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”  And while nostalgia is great, it is not the best way to do high quality science. Today, we have better tools for tracking research and better tools to (re)-use our past results.

One massive problem facing today’s science is reproducibility. When experiments are not reproducible everyone suffers. From wasting time pursuing a result that was not real to creating products that end up not working. It’s a huge and important issue. Multiple factors feed into the reproducibility crisis, but correctly recording and documenting experimental procedures and results is key to improving reproducibility.

Additionally, not creating digital records of data accounts for 17% of data loss (add source and/or hyperlink) and is a major cause of information loss and the mis-management of information causing delays and setbacks in research. With an ELN your experimental data becomes searchable and all the results are at your fingertips. It’s like being able to do a ctrl-F on your lab notebook.  You can also conveniently do a “ctrl-C, ctrl-V”.

The electronic lab notebook platform records procedures and data much more reliably and thoroughly than is possible with a traditional paper lab notebook. All changes are stored in the software and because the raw data can be stored alongside the analyzed results it’s simple to see how a conclusion was drawn.

While the paper laboratory notebook as been around since the dawn of scientific study this does not mean that we should just keep using it. The technical advancements of the past 50 years or so have increased the complexity of research experiments tremendously. The methods that we use to record, store, and share our data need to match these technical advancements.

In today’s world, the majority of scientific research data, data analysis and results are gathered and presented in a digital format. Having to transcribe your digital data into a paper notebook and then back into a digital format for publishing is unnecessary, time consuming, and prone to errors. If you want your research to move forward at the rapid pace of science in the Internet era, using an ELN is non-negotiable.

Scientist with tablet showing ELN screen
"3" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Enter the Electronic Lab Notebook

An ELN should work with underlying digital data generation, archival and mining capabilities. Ideally, these technologies support natural workflows for your scientific research. Commonly used data analysis software can be integrated directly with an ELN so that all the parts of your experiment can be stored in one place. This allows a complete view of all experimental data, data analyses, and protocols.

You can see a step by step view of the experiment and see all the modifications and analysis that has been done. Using an ELN provides transparency within your research group allowing your pace of discovery to accelerate.

"4" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Electronic Lab Notebook Benefits

It is ironic given today’s digital and global culture that the lab notebook sometimes can be one of the last pieces of the research process that has resisted modernization. Digital platforms have streamlined and optimized much of today’s scientific research and development. Because data and protocols are digital, they are most useful in software tools for automated computational processes.  The key is to automate the more manual aspects of digital workflows, whenever practical.

Scientists work in labs where equipment is controlled by computers for data acquisition and analysis. There is a need for secure and reliable documentation of both the data and protocols (also sometimes referred to as meta-data).  Leading companies and academic researchers have embraced the digital paradigm. Science has always been data driven. Today it is driven by much more data than in the past.

Pen and paper notebook has been revered as a sacred pillar of history that scientists trust and respect. It’s sense of simplicity and reliability and inertia has caused them to resist this piece of modernization. The ritual of pen to paper tracking methods and sharing their recorded information is the old way of recording experiments. With electronic laboratory (learning) notebooks scientists can enter, store, and share their data as appropriate.   The technology provides greater security, accuracy and reproducibility of the work.

Moving into an electronic laboratory notebook allows for more organized, legible data combined with superior record keeping.   Significant time savings come from search-ability and the integrity of data. Can’t remember what instrument you used in that experiment five years ago? A quick search gives you the answer, rather than having to flip through volumes of paper notebooks.

The benefits of the electronic lab notebook go beyond just making paper work digital. ELNs are high functioning data managers that can incorporate data from multiple sources.  Regardless of the data source, the ELN provides a permanent archive and an audit trail.

Data and protocols from your phone, computer, or manually entered can be imported in standardized formats in an ELN.  Standard file formats allow you to separate the data from the applications. Ideally, a web-based interface provides easy access and increased accuracy for a variety of different projects, labs, and collaborations within a single system.

Say goodbye to messy papers or scribbled illegible writing, now your data is stored in a centralized system that manages the entire research continuum.

14 Benefits of an Electronic Lab Notebook

  1. Consolidated, centralized data management.
  2. Increased clarity and organization of data and protocols.
  3. 21 CFR Part 11 compliance with audit trails and tight access controls for inspection.
  4. Simplified consolidation of samples, reagents, lots, plates, barcodes, order numbers, order tracking, and sample tracking, including batch data and meta-data.
  5. Digital Archival of lab results within a secure web-based platform for easy accessibility.
  6. Enhanced collaboration via securely shared search functionality within and between (selected) scientific teams - both physically in and out of the lab.
  7. Ease of tracking sample information along with the ability to add files, external links, graphs, and rdf tags.
  8. Accessibility in and outside the lab for current and future research - a permanent archive.
  9. Secure software balanced accessibility across the team and inter-institution sharing of resources, with technologies like 2-factor identification, unique passwords, IP Address restrictions, and data-protocol partitioning.
  10. Externally hosted setup and maintenance costs are often included in the licensing fee. This keeps the responsibility for ongoing administration, upgrades, and maintenance with the provider (and most guarantee reliability and document up-time).
  11. Your documents and files are organized and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
  12. You eliminate extra paper waste, unclear penmanship, and documentation.
  13. Integration with complex LIMS systems supports both structured and unstructured data.
  14. Ability to export or share in multiple formats.
"5" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Disadvantages of Different Types of Electronic Lab Notebooks

There is always a small risk of a security breach with any system, even with encryption assurances.  Most security breaches are function of suboptimal user behavior (i.e. avoiding best practices).  However, increased monitoring, security “defense in depth”, awareness of best practices, and vigilance can significantly minimize security risks.  More information on how you can help maintain the security and privacy of your data can be found online.

There are pros and cons of hosted versus on premise ELNs, but clearly the trend has been to much greater adoption of hosted solutions due a number of advantages (economic, scale, collaborative, rate of improvement, convenience of deployment, uptime, security, etc).

"6" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

How to Use an Electronic Lab Notebook

Using an electronic lab notebook can be nearly as easy as using popular word documentation software. Digital software programs have made the move to digital lab notes an easy transition with a much lower learning curve than in the past.

Instead of documenting your notes, processes, and research protocol in a paper notebook, those same notes will be entered or imported through a centralized computer system. Ideally, you access your electronic lab notebook from any internet-connected device - whether you are logged in from a computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

The ELN data entry process through a text editor provides formatting that you would find in a word document.  With online systems with a user friendly interface, you can simply try the system to see how easily it will work. ELNs allow for seamless importing and exporting documents and spreadsheets.  More specialized scientific ELNs can analyze specialized data types like chemical structures, biological sequences, dose-response curves, annotations, and controlled vocabularies.

You’ll have formatting capabilities and the ability to easily organize your documents.  A collaborative ELN allows researchers to either keep content private or selectively share with an entire team.  Whether done individually or collaboratively, powerful searching technologies allow for different ways to interrogate the content and different data types.  Searching through all the document with appropriate access permissions balances privacy with group efficiency.

The digital notebooks incorporate and organize graphs, images, tables, and annotations. You can create SOPs and templates to assist with reproducibility. The available features of an electronic lab notebook ideally can be accessed through an intuitive user interface within a software platform that is nearly as easy to use as familiar office-based or online document sharing packages.

"7" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Data Security With An Electronic Lab Notebook Platform

When performing experiments, your lab notebook is a legal document that represents your scientific results. When filing for patents, or making related intellectual property claims, the lab notebook becomes formal evidence. As scientists you are aware of the importance of your lab notebook and your scientific work. A traditional paper lab notebook is not necessarily the best way to maintain an accurate and thorough record of your experiments.

The way that a lab notebook is often kept secure is by locking the lab notebook up in the lab overnight. This works, but means that the notebook is inaccessible anywhere except in the lab during daytime.

What about your digital data and results, how are those being stored? Many researchers are using online databases like Google Drive or Dropbox to share and store their data. And while this is convenient, it is not a secure Electronic Laboratory Notebook.

A more secure way to share among lab members and collaborators is an Electronic Lab Notebook. The ELN platform provides a secure software that can house both your research data and corresponding protocols.

The FDA has also switched to encouraging organizations to submit completely electronic documents, as paper-based methods are becoming obsolete. Back in 1997, the FDA deemed that electronic records would hold up legally in the same way as paper records. This opened up the gates for the adoption of Electronic Lab Notebooks.

However, to ensure the security of research data, the FDA implemented even more stringent guidelines for the ELN. In what is commonly referred to as 21CFR11 and GxP the FDA upped the standards that medical and pharmaceutical companies had to meet to rigorously document their processes for using digital data security. Typically documented functionality includes processes using electronic signatures, audit trails, modification tracking, as well as thorough standard operating procedures (SOPs) throughout the organization.  These requirements are more important at the later stages of drug discovery and development, the closer you get to an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing.

Rigorously documenting your processes using an ELN will help an organization stay compliant,  maintain data integrity, and data security.

"8" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Choosing Where Your ELN Data Lives

Where your electronic lab notebook lives addresses many can address needs for security and shareability. The primary concern for this valuable data lies in both protecting it as well as making it accessible to the right people, at the right time.  Ideally the technology works so well it is just taken for granted.

Electronic lab notebooks can be hosted or within an organization’s on premise environment.

With a hosted server - the most popular storage option, there are advantages that include:

  • Cost advantages from both the absence of set-up costs, as well as the minimization of ongoing maintenance fees (often included in the initial license fee)
  • No customer IT responsibility for set-up, administration, or server maintenance.
  • Accessible data, protocols, and documents from anywhere by anyone on your team (consistent with allowed access permissions).
  • Minimum service level guarantees (typically >>99% uptime).

The downside to hosted solution from a third party provider include:

  • Your data may share space on the same server as others and though held separately, some deem that a risk they are unwilling to bear.   There are pros and cons to multi-tenant and single-tenant architecture, primarily related to costs.
  • If the internet goes down anywhere along the line, then your access will not be available.  Fortunately, today internet access has become much more reliable than in the past.
  • Dependency on the security and privacy practices of the organization (which may be better or worse than your own organization’s practices)

For some research organizations, a hosted solution is preferred and for others an on premise environment is preferred.   A middle option is a private cloud server. Your ELN software provider should be familiar with the pros and cons of the different options.  Ideally, there is expertise and documentation of best practices.

Ease of set up, use, and reduced costs are prevailing decision making factors for an organizations adopting hosted solutions. For larger companies with different data storage policies, the additional costs of an on premise solution may be worth the extra costs.

"9" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Lab Wide Research Data Accessibility

One of the biggest benefits of using an electronic lab notebook is that you can easily share your data and results with lab members and collaborators, in a controlled manner. You can choose who can see what scientific data, who can edit or add to the ELN and who has admin access. Instead of emailing important results or sharing spreadsheets in Google Drive you can securely and quickly share your research with the people who need access to it. An ELN together with a registration system can be a complete data management solution.

Allowing for real time collaboration between researchers saves time and money. Researchers don’t have to wait around for the data they need to perform their experiments or worse repeat experiments that have already been done that wastes both time and resources.

This is especially useful as collaborations become global and you may not be working in the same location as those people with whom you are collaborating.

Since collaborative Electronic Lab Notebook platforms can be hosted solutions, all your data is recorded, stored and can be accessed from anywhere. Experimental results can be instantly shared with the interested parties and the scientific discovery process can continue without a hitch. This is not at all possible with the traditional paper lab notebook.  And collaboration is often not practical with on-premise solutions that require cumbersome access methods.

Drug discovery requires an interdisciplinary team.  Often the lack of communication between different teams can cause delays and errors in the pipeline. Using an ELN that all team members can access brings ease, quickness and confidence into the highly collaborative drug discovery process.

"10" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Electronic Lab Notebooks Positively Impact Team Work

Research is a collaborative effort. So while ensuring the best security protocols are in place to protect your data, you also want to streamline the sharing process to the trusted people on your team and experts in the field. When funding is on a deadline and efficiency equals money gained or lost, the accessibility to data to enhance collaboration is a premium need.

The electronic lab notebook offers the ability to manage a team by creating access groups and subgroups with flexible restrictions and access functions that open the door to the right data at the right time, to the right people. It allows for exclusivity and the power of selection based on assigned user rights.  The specificity of information, how it is accessed, shared and exported can all be controlled. The right platform will also allow you to change team access individually and by group without losing the contributed data.

A team engaged through the electronic lab notebook can experience increased engagement.  Both individuals and organizations can track ownership of their data and appreciate their contributions to the bigger project. Active communication and visual tracking of work creates experiential integration of concrete executed work. The ease of finding and sharing data across the lab creates cohesiveness and enhanced purpose for the lab as a whole.

"11" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

ELNs And Inventory Tracking

Some electronic lab notebook software systems have their own inventory tracking system that allows for lab inventory management within the same software as your data storage. Having this feature included in your electronic notebook solution adds benefits from streamlined workflows.  There is a significant efficiency when you eliminate the bulk of multiple systems. This powerful capability accessed through the same interface as your data adds an extra value from lab management. Ideally, the software supports custom templates and fields to identify and track material information in your database a variety of entities (i.e. protocols, raw bioactivity data points, process data, chemicals, biologicals, drug candidates, antibodies, reagents, primers, plasmids, etc.)

An inventory setup allows you to upload and update supply quantities, expiration dates, lab storage locations, item descriptions, and even scanned barcodes. Again, ideally, you can allow or restrict access to individuals and selected groups.

Inventory tracking allows you to find specific items and materials used in any particular experiment and reference them with ease. Inventory helps for running your actual experiments, reproducibility, documentation, and collaboration.

"12" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Adhering To Good Laboratory Practices

The OECD established Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) guidance for data storage and security compliance that applies to electronic lab notebooks.

When researching an ELN you want an assessment of the security measures for data storage and security. You want clear assurance that your data is protected from hackers. You want tracking for edits to ensure integrity. You want restrictions that can be customized and a secure method to share, export, or migrate your data to the right people at the right time. Anyone on your team or with your collaborators may have the key discovery and data that provides the foundation for composition of matter and/or utility patents.

Your electronic lab notebook should provide procedures for exporting and reliability for access and sharing. This will include information on data protection and back up scheduling.

GLP compliance includes ensuring confidentiality through user agreements as well as through encryption and authentication protocols with electronic signatures across all levels of your team.

Your ELN can meet strict adherence to GLP best practices - including processes outlined in the FDA 21 CFT Part11 and ISO certification. The right software will give you clarity, back ups, tracking, and clear data paths.

"13" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Electronic Lab Notebooks And LIMS

With Electronic Lab Notebooks coming out in the late 1990s (but still not widely adopted) and LIMS - laboratory information management systems (LIMS) coming out in the late 1960s, the longevity of this technology is becoming more widely used in both research and commercial labs today. LIMS has 30 years on the ELN and has seen dramatic evolutions in data management. LIMS ability to link information from samples and projects has increased their use in QA/QC environments in particular.

Time and money pressures has increased demands on LIMS forcing them to adapt and progress quickly. While some may look at LIMS and ELNs as contrary to one another, they are in fact, with the right system, well integrated and provide complementary and comprehensive data management. The lines are becoming blurred as vendors and users use LIMS, ELNs and registration systems to support similar workflows.

A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is a database that manages lab resources. Historically LIMS were used to manage information that was then entered into traditional non-electronic lab notebooks. Whereas the Electronic Lab Notebook manages projects, protocols, data entry, teams, sharing, exporting, publishing, procedures, and team collaboration. An ELN tracks and gives timelines over the process where LIMS manages the research resources including samples, reagents, stocks including order/reorder functionality.

A hearty ELN will include LIMS integration because of the complementary - not competitive nature of the resources it manages.  This integration eliminates the redundancy of moving from electronic management to manual paper systems and back again.

Where LIMS have been powerful is in managing R&D information in a structured database. This can place limits on functionality and usefulness particularly when dealing with unstructured data that comes from early stage R&D work coming from multiple sources. ELNs come in as advantageous in early stage development because of their features where data is securely stored and accessed and selectively shared.  Modern systems can handle both unstructured and structured data in an integrated single software platform.

Where LIMS have gained mainstream popularity, ELNs have only begun to ramp up in use over the past few years with rapid growth continuing, sometimes one department and lab at a time, and other times across entire organizations.

The use of both ELNs and LIMS have made laboratories more environmentally friendly and safer, as they have made them more efficient with the ability to protect and leverage protected information. Electronic lab notebooks are poised with this integrative workflow to be the final holding space for information and are appealing to labs looking for patent and commercialization of their research. Ease of access and searchability make ELNs in particular a robust data management tool. When ELNs are combined with a strong LIMS (or registration) foundation, together they can provide labs with strong tools for competitive growth. The marriage of ELN flexibility and LIMS structure supports many stages of R&D data management with a full range of functions that can evolve and scale with the needs of an organization over time.

Collaborative software platforms blend the best of both systems to offer you a full informatics solution to suit your needs.

"14" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

How To Choose An ELN

There are clear benefits of moving to an electronic lab notebook.  The benefits include improved data documentation, secure and shareable data storage, comprehensive workflow support, role assignments, import/export features, and greater reproducibility.  These benefits directly translate to time and money saving. The efficiency and reproducibility improvements are a boon to science… By now you are likely convinced that ELNs have value. Yet choosing one that is right for you and your lab is a process in itself. It’s a question not of ELN versus paper, but of which ELN is right for you?

The ELN market is expanding and each have features, price points, support, and adoption curves that may make some better or worse for your particular situation. The landscape can be confusing which is one reason why labs have been slower to adopt ELNs then perhaps you would have expected. Rather than getting stuck in endless feature comparisons, it’s a good idea to start out by identifying the non-negotiable “must have” requirements for your particular situation, then seek out the ELNs that fit your needs.

Research scientists are primed for the solution. They are drowning in the volume of complex data that historically was just cut and pasted into paper notebooks from multiple sources.  Imagine searching across and try and decipher thousands of those pieces of paper from day to day - with penmanship that might make any hope of collaboration impossible.

At the very basic level, the ability to search, copy, archive, share, and export is worth the investment plus the learning curve of adoption. Automated templates add another opportunity for greater ROI. Supervisors gain a full spectrum view of process and progress with the right controls needed to run a tight lab, an efficient ship.

Choosing the right ELN requires appreciating it’s value - to your own work, and to that of the entire lab.

  1. Look at the needs of your lab. Where are there inefficiencies? How can technology help you prioritize what is most important to you and your team?   Which capabilities will really help you move the needle? Then do some online research and finally try some systems to see which might fit your needs best.   Websites like Capterra independently review ELN software.
  2. Educate yourself on legal issues.  Patent offices in the EU and USA have moved priority dates back from the date of discovery to date of filing. This can help extend the effective lifetime of a patented product.  Data storage can be restricted or fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Documents needed as evidence and the need for signatures and witnesses are also considerations and features to assess in the ELN.
  3. Evaluate the history of the ELN company for long-term stability. You want an ELN firm with a proven track record of happy customers.  Look for a company that’s at least five years old and ideally one that has been in business for over a decade. Look for reliable tech support, upgrades, maintenance, security, and best software development practices.   
  4. Set up a free trial. Or ask for one if they don’t offer one. You want a clean and logical user interface. You want to try out the features and software integrations. You want to look at customizable/configurable templates and user administration. Try the software to assess how it fits your needs.  Collaborative software has the reputation from other labs you trust who go with it. Often times reference customers or existing collaborations already know the best options available.
  5. Keep ease of use in mind. A user interface that is well designed and intuitive helps decrease the learning curve of the team and increase team adoption by reducing barriers for integration.
"15" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

Return on Investment for Electronic Lab Notebooks

The primary return on investment (ROI) for researchers is in time. The time savings translate to significant increases in efficiency and overall increased productivity which impacts financial bottom lines.  In addition to time savings, collaborative ELNs provide additional opportunities for new discoveries. To paraphrase a famous scientific quote from Louis Pasteur “chance favors the prepared mind”, and with a collaborative ELN “chance favors prepared minds.”

ELN’s save time in the following areas:

  1. Meetings:

    ELNs reduce wasted time in meeting preparation by organizing data for easy access to monitor timely progress.  Having the data readily visible for facile communication makes for better meetings.

  2. Email:

    For sharing current and historical data without wasting time searching through paper notebooks, ELNs allow for time savings with a point and click to share.

  3. Protocols and templates:

    ELNs store your data and templates following standard processes.  You can update them in real time by making the most current version easily shared. This helps minimize time spent on instruction to lab members, students, and supervisors.

  4. Experiment Scheduling:

    You can plan your experiments directly within your ELN going beyond just data entry and organization.  You can include the full scope of the experiment. You can compare results, connect with protocols, and manage inventory for increased reproducibility within an integrated platform.

  5. Workflows:

    Many ELNs have functionality that help you plan your lab work and processes into sequences that can be shared with your entire lab via a project management system.

  6. Manuscript writing:

    Some ELNs include functionality that allows researchers to create manuscripts by selecting experiments and references to help generate a manuscript quickly and efficiently.

  7. Report Generation:

    In addition to templates and protocols, ELNs consolidate research notes, experiments, protocols, images, and results for accurate and swift reporting.

  8. Grant application:

    Because of how efficiently ELNs store and track information, the tedious job of writing grants is well supported by these systems for adherence to requirements - whether for new grant submission or existing grant compliance.

  9. External collaboration:

    The ability to select, tag, track, and share data both internally and externally through an electronic lab notebook gives you more administrative flexibility.

  10. New team member on-boarding and exit controls:

    When new lab members joins the lab, on-boarding is efficient with reduced learning curves and knowledge gaps.  Likewise, when a researcher leaves the lab, the electronic lab notebook can quickly revoke permissions and protect data in the system.

The costs associated with set up and licensing can provide a relatively high value for a low cost for your lab.  Consider the TCO (total cost of ownership), including the time investment of learning a new system based upon how intuitive it is to use.  Vendors can help with moving your data over, and onboarding your team.

Overall, these are relatively small investments compared to the ROI of time and money savings for researchers.  Researchers have a need to manage data, projects, inventories and to explore more advanced data mining functionality.

Many electronic lab notebooks are customizable to the exact needs of each project and team in ways not even conceivable with paper based data recording. Real time updates and administrative efficiency produces additional time savings per lab members of measurable hours (as a function of the number of collaborators).

When added up across a team - the return on investment for time alone is profound and usually compelling. The increased productivity and decreased waste of your lab contribute to return on investments that include lab morale and engaged researchers.  The vast majority of researchers who adopt ELNs stay with them long-term, following the 1-time set-up.

"16" list icon for CDD Vault ELN Blog Posts

ELNs Keep Up With The Digital Revolution

The modern process for research and development is digital. As scientists, you consume and produce data digitally far more often than you do in a paper based way. To keep up with the innovation that this digital revolution allows requires an ELN.   This is the better way to handle experimental procedures, data, and results.

It is not possible to excel in a digital world while still using a paper based notebook to store and record your data. Not without wasting precious time in the laborious back and forth between the digital and paper mediums.  

Issues arise from the error prone copying of digital data into paper notebooks, from incomplete records being kept in these paper based systems and from the loss of data that has not been digitized. If your main method for recording and storing research data is an analog system then your science is suffering.

To elevate the standards of your research, moving to an electronic platform is critical and overdue. It’s an inevitable evolution of the modern scientific process. The benefits include greater data clarity, collaboration, compliance, increased reproducibility, decreased waste and time efficiency, improved reporting, reliable storage, convenient data exporting, enhanced lab functionality, and scalable management.

Adding the right electronic lab notebook solution to your lab brings individual productivity, team synergy, and self-management.  ELNs provide a competitive advantage by bringing you to the frontier of research, right where you belong.

CDD VAULT by Collaborative Drug Discovery is a Simple and 100% Secure Data Management Platform Hosted Through an Intuitive Web Interface

CDD Vault helps your project team manage, analyze, and present chemical structures, biological assays, and other scientific data.

Untitled-1

CDD VAULT by Collaborative Drug Discovery is a Simple and 100% Secure Data Management Platform Hosted Through an Intuitive Web Interface

Untitled-1

CDD Vault helps your project team manage, analyze, and present chemical structures, biological assays, and other scientific data.

Translated with Google Translate