What Is An Electronic Lab Notebook And Why Do You Need One?

What is an Electronic Lab Network and why do you need one? Collaborative Drug Discovery ELN
Photo by Joe Frutelle, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Kellan Gregory

At the most fundamental level, an electronic lab notebook (or ELN) is a digital version of the traditional lab notebook.

But, this is too simplistic an explanation.

Because an ELN is not just the pages of your notebook digitally remastered or scanned and stored on a computer.

An ELN is a software program designed to help you plan, track, manage, record, and analyze your experiments digitally.

Your ELN entry forms can be designed specifically for the type of research you are doing so that the system supports you and your team members as best as possible.

Plus, all the data is stored centrally and is accessible by other members of your team.

ELNs remove the tiresome activity of taking your experimental results, which are largely digital in the first place, and then printing them out and cutting and pasting them into your notebook.

Cutting-and-pasting is for grade school.

An ELN creates greater efficiency and produces a more historically accurate data management system. Ultimately, an ELN leads to reduced mistakes and lowered total research costs — something every lab wants.

7 Features Of The Collaborative Drug Discovery Vault Electronic Lab Notebook

An ELN is a superior way to record and manage your experiments.

And, the integration between the CDD Vault and the CDD Vault ELN makes digitally recording, managing, and analyzing your data even easier.

CDD Vault ELN is an extension of the CDD Vault, where you can archive and selectively share experimental text and data.

ELN entries are tightly integrated within the CDD Vault platform and operate under the same project-based organization.

Here are 7 features of the CDD Vault ELN…

 

1. You can capture and record digital images, files, and structures.

The CDD Vault ELN helps you capture and collaborate around both unstructured information related to your experiments, as well as the structured data of your experiments.

This means you can capture and link to conversations, notes, documents, or files associated with your data, as well as the structured data pieces, such as plots or SAR results.

Linking to the unstructured information associated with an experiment allows for easy access to relevant information and discussions around experiments, enabling better collaboration and optimization.

While linking to the structured data all in one place allows for easier analysis and discussion of the results.

See the example of a CDD Vault ELN entry below.

Image of a Collaborative Drug Discovery Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) entry
Image of a Collaborative Drug Discovery Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) entry

Within the CDD Vault ELN entry, you can easily capture and link to a variety of objects, including:

  • Images
  • File attachments
  • Links to CDD Vault & other resources
  • Tables
  • Structures

The CDD Vault ELN provides an organizational framework where you can capture and record all the information associated with a particular experiment.

A link to your CDD Valut Object will appear in the ELN entry, and a link to the ELN entry will appear in the Batches tab for the Valut Object within Activity & Registration
A link to your CDD Vault Object will appear in the ELN entry, and a link to the ELN entry will appear in the Batches tab for the Vault Object within Activity & Registration

Because the ELN entries are integrated with CDD Vault, you can jump from an ELN Entry to view the chemical properties and assay results for a compound and return to the ELN Entry from a registered batch of a compound.

Details on inserting links to Molecules and other ELN entries can be found in our Support Portal Knowledgebase.

3. You can add clickable URLs to ELN entries.

If you need to link to an information source both within or even outside of the CDD vault, that is also possible.

You can add links to any internal or external URL to a CDD Vault ELN entry. And then, from within the CDD Vault ELN entry, you can click that link and be taken to the URL location.

Additionally, you can modify the text associated with the hyperlink to provide a more readable description, instead of a confusing and long native web address.

You can add clickable links to external URLs and access them from within the CDD Vault Entry

4. Your notebook becomes searchable.

Have you ever wanted to be able to run a ctrl-F search on your lab notebook?

With the CDD Vault ELN, you can.

The ELN allows you to quickly search for text or chemical structures using a simple and intuitive interface. Searching can be done using keyword searches, or using a chemical sub-structure query.

Your lab notebook because a searchable database when using Collabortive Drug Discovery's ELN.
Using CDD’s ELN, your lab notebook becomes a searchable database

Keyword text searches will search over any text found within the ELN entry, as well as text found within any readable file attached to an ELN entry.

The readable files that can be attached to the ELN entry and searched include CDD Vault entities such as Molecules, Protocols, and other ELN entries.

Additionally, you can further filter the search results based on author, project, or status.

With all of the data you are storing, generating, and analyzing within CDD Vault, using the ELN to cross-reference your various data entities becomes a powerful tool for your drug discovery efforts.

5. You and your team can collaborate on ELN entries in real time.

The CDD Vault ELN allows you to collaborate on CDD Vault notebook entries with your teammates.

If more than one person is working on an experiment, they can easily see the work of their collaborator.

Teammates can share annotations, have discussions, and mentor one another in real time, right from within the ELN entry.

Collaborative Drug Discovery's ELN allows easy, real-time collaboration within teams
CDD’s ELN facilitates real-time collaboration within teams.

This close collaboration allows easy management of all the projects that you may be collaborating on.

Additionally, you can customize the ELN forms to fit your team or project so that the structure of the form supports your collaboration.

6. You don’t lose the option to have a hard copy of your ELN entry.

While CDD Vault ELN provides an amazing platform for archiving and mining your research, sometimes you just want a piece of paper to hold, and perhaps share or archive.

And, with the CDD Vault ELN, this is possible.

You can easily print an ELN entry by clicking the Print button located in the toolbar.

Collaborative Drug Discovery ELN entries can easily be printed by clicking print icon in your toolbar
ELN entries can easily be printed by clicking print icon in your toolbar

The resulting print-out closely mirrors the look of the ELN entry as viewed within CDD Vault, including thumbnail images of chemical structures and file attachments.

In addition to printing your ELN entry, you can also export all the file attachments found within an ELN entry.

This is done by simply clicking the Export button located in the toolbar.

File attachments within a Collaborative Drug Discovery ELN entry can also be exported
File attachments within an ELN entry can also be exported

Once the export file is ready, it can be downloaded as a ZIP file containing all the files that were attached to your ELN entry.

The combination of printing the ELN entry and downloading all the attached files allows you to archive your complete ELN entry.

7. Display your PDB files within the ELN entry.

As with any file, you can insert your PDB files into an ELN entry.

Inserting PDB files can be achieved by dragging-and-dropping the file into your ELN entry workspace, or by using the “Insert Attachment” paperclip button in the header bar of an ELN entry.

PDB files that are attached to a collaborative Drug Discovery ELN entry will automatically preview in an interactive 3-D viewer
PDB files that are attached to an ELN entry will automatically preview in an interactive 3-D viewer.

But, the exciting part is, PDB files that are attached to an ELN entry will automatically preview in an interactive 3D viewer.

Once the PDB file is inserted, the file type will be recognized and the 3D interactive viewer will be shown.

From this viewer, the PDB file can then be manipulated.

When you click into the PDB box, you can zoom, rotate, and position the structure in 3D space, as desired.

Summary

An electronic lab notebook (or ELN) is a superior way to record and manage your experiments. And, the integration between the CDD Vault and the CDD Vault ELN makes digitally recording, managing, and analyzing your data even easier. The CDD Vault ELN allows you to capture and record digital images, files, and structures. Furthermore, your CDD vault objects can be linked to an ELN entry. You can also add clickable URLs to ELN entries. The ELN allows you to quickly search for text or chemical structures using a simple and intuitive interface. Additionally, you and your team can collaborate on ELN entries in real time. And, don’t worry, you don’t lose the option to have a hard copy of your ELN entry. Finally, as with any file, you can insert your PDB files into an ELN entry.

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