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Concept: Electronic lab notebook


Electronic laboratory notebooks increase opportunities for collaboration and information exchange when compared with paper records. Depending on the degree of implementation, a laboratory- or enterprise-wide system can unify the collection, review and dissemination of data to improve laboratory efficiency and productivity. The advantages of an electronic laboratory notebook for speeding data review in bioanalysis are discussed, through the use of validated templates and organizational constructs to block errors in real-time and reduce manual audit tasks.

Concepts: Research, Degree of a polynomial, Lab notebook, Notebooks, Notebook, Electronic lab notebook, The Notebook, Inventor's notebook


Electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) will probably replace paper laboratory notebooks (PLNs) in academic research due to their advantages in data recording, sharing and security. Despite several reports describing technical characteristics of ELNs and their advantages over PLNs, no study has directly tested ELN performance among researchers. In addition, the usage of tablet-based devices or wearable technology as ELN complements has never been explored in the field. To implement an ELN in our biomedical research institute, here we first present a technical comparison of six ELNs using 42 parameters. Based on this, we chose two ELNs, which were tested by 28 scientists for a 3-month period and by 80 students via hands-on practical exercises. Second, we provide two survey-based studies aimed to compare these two ELNs (PerkinElmer Elements and Microsoft OneNote) and to analyze the use of tablet-based devices. We finally explore the advantages of using wearable technology as ELNs tools. Among the ELNs tested, we found that OneNote presents almost all parameters evaluated (39/42) and both surveyed groups preferred OneNote as an ELN solution. In addition, 80% of the surveyed scientists reported that tablet-based devices improved the use of ELNs in different respects. We also describe the advantages of using OneNote application for Apple Watch as an ELN wearable complement. This work defines essential features of ELNs that could be used to improve ELN implementation and software development.

Concepts: Research, Medical research, Design, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Lab notebook, Notebooks, Electronic lab notebook


In order to exploit the vast body of currently inaccessible chemical information held in Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs) it is necessary not only to make it available but also to develop protocols for discovery, access and ultimately automatic processing. An aim of the Dial-a-Molecule Grand Challenge Network is to be able to draw on the body of accumulated chemical knowledge in order to predict or optimize the outcome of reactions. Accordingly the Network drew up a working group comprising informaticians, software developers and stakeholders from industry and academia to develop protocols and mechanisms to access and process ELN records. The work presented here constitutes the first stage of this process by proposing a tiered metadata system of knowledge, information and processing where each in turn addresses a) discovery, indexing and citation b) context and access to additional information and c) content access and manipulation. A compact set of metadata terms, called the elnItemManifest, has been derived and caters for the knowledge layer of this model. The elnItemManifest has been encoded as an XML schema and some use cases are presented to demonstrate the potential of this approach.

Concepts: Futurology, Chemistry, Research, The Network, Compact space, Notebooks, Notebook, Electronic lab notebook


MOTIVATION: Laboratory notebooks remain crucial to the activities of research communities. With the increase in generation of electronic data within both wet and dry analytical laboratories and new technologies providing more efficient means of communication, Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN) offer equivalent record keeping to paper based laboratory notebooks (PLN). They additionally allow more efficient mechanisms for data sharing and retrieval, which explains the growing number of commercial ELNs available varying in size and scope but all are increasingly accepted and used by the scientific community([1]). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) having already a LIMS([2]) and a Biobank Management System([3]) for respectively laboratory workflows and sample management, we have developed a free multidisciplinary ELN specifically dedicated to work notes that will be flexible enough to accommodate different types of data.Availability and implementation: information for installation of our freeware ELN with source codes customizations are detailed in supplementary data.

Concepts: Scientific method, Research, Computer, Source code, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lab notebook, Notebooks, Electronic lab notebook


In designing an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) there is a balance to be struck between keeping it as general and multidisciplinary as possible for simplicity of use and maintenance and introducing more domain-specific functionality to increase their appeal to target research areas. Here we describe the results of a collaboration between the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the University of Southampton, guided by the aims of the Dial-a-Molecule Grand Challenge, intended to achieve the best of both worlds and augment a discipline-agnostic ELN, LabTrove, with chemistry-specific functionality and using data provided by the ChemSpider platform. This has been done using plug-in technology to ensure maximum transferability with minimal effort of the chemistry functionality to other ELNs, and equally other subject-specific functionality to LabTrove. The resulting product, ChemTrove, has undergone a usability trial by selected academics and the resulting feedback will guide the future development of the underlying ELN technology.

Concepts: Future, Research, Greatest hits, Lab notebook, Notebooks, Southampton, Royal Society, Electronic lab notebook


Despite many apparent advantages, including security, back-up, remote access, workflow, and data management, the use of electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) in the modern research laboratory is still developing. This presents a challenge to instructors who want to give undergraduate students an introduction to the kinds of data curation and notebook keeping skills that will inevitably be required as ELNs penetrate normal laboratory practice. An additional problem for the teacher is that ELNs do not generally have student-administrative functions and are prohibitively expensive. In this report, we describe the use and impact of an ePortfolio system as a surrogate ELN. Introduction of the system led to several pedagogic outcomes, namely: increased preparedness of students for class, encouragement of creativity and reflection with respect to experimental methods, greatly enhanced engagement between students and tutors, and it gave instructors the ability to scrutinize original data files and monitor student-tutor feedback cycles. However, implementation led to a disruption of tutor workloads and incurred new levels of accountability that threatened to undermine the initiative. Through course evaluations and other reflective processes, we reached an appreciation of how an ELN should be introduced into practical class teaching so that it not only becomes an appropriate aid for teaching the laboratory experience, but also becomes a life-long resource for students. © 2013 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2013.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Education, Chemistry, Research, Teacher, Notebooks, Electronic lab notebook


Abstract Documentation of research data plays a key role in the biomedical engineering innovation processes. It makes an important contribution to the protection of intellectual property, the traceability of results and fulfilling the regulatory requirement. Because of the increasing digitalization in laboratories, an electronic alternative to the commonly-used paper-bound notebooks could contribute to the production of sophisticated documentation. However, compared to in an industrial environment, the use of electronic laboratory notebooks is not widespread in academic laboratories. Little is known about the acceptance of an electronic documentation system and the underlying reasons for this. Thus, this paper aims to establish a prediction model on the potential preference and acceptance of scientists either for paper-based or electronic documentation. The underlying data for the analysis originate from an online survey of 101 scientists in industrial, academic and clinical environments. Various parameters were analyzed to identify crucial factors for the system preference using binary logistic regression. The analysis showed significant dependency between the documentation system preference and the supposed workload associated with the documentation system (p<0.006; odds ratio=58.543) and an additional personal component. Because of the dependency of system choice on specific parameters it is possible to predict the acceptance of an electronic laboratory notebook before implementation.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Prediction, Research, University, Electrical engineering, Notebooks, Electronic lab notebook