Online lab notebooks

Hi All,
Please share your experience with online data management. There are several online electronic lab notebooks in the market. We also just started using labarchives. Although taking notes in the notebook seems a gold standard method but with time, digitalization is necessary. How much convenient these are for researchers?

Digital definitely has decisive benefits over paper. The question is, which system do you use?

This impressive table from Harvard helps compare features of different ELNs

Ultimately, they all have similar cores features. It’s just a matter of which best fits your needs, and most importantly which one you are actually going to use consistently. If there is too much friction, you won’t use it. Just like paper notebooks, ELNs are only as good as you make them.

With that said, I’ve tried many different ELNs, and ultimately there is too much friction for me because they are web-based. In the end, I’ve reverted to timeless, open formats that are on my computer:

  • Folders synced in Dropbox
  • R Markdown notebooks for documenting everything, and doing my R analysis in
  • Raw data files
  • Version control with Github

I control everything, it’s super fast and simple, timeless, future-proof.

If I had to pick one of the commercial offerings, however, I’d probably go with Benchling. LabArchives seems to be getting all the institutional support. WashU, where I’m now a post-doc, just rolled out official support for LabArchives. We’ll see. I checked it out. It has functionality but nothing special.

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