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Electronic Lab Notebooks


In 2018, the NIH Library Data Services team conducted a comprehensive review of electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) to understand how they have been used to date and to potentially support their use by the NIH community. This guide serves as a synthesis of the review and is organized into the following sections:

  • What are Electronic Lab Notebooks?

  • Selecting and Implementing an Electronic Lab Notebook

  • ELNs at NIH

What are Electronic Lab Notebooks?

An ELN is a software tool that functions like a paper lab notebook. ELNs have a number of advantages when compared to paper lab notebooks:

  • Allows data to be entered electronically

  • Supports transparency and reproducibility

  • Supports the development of workflows

  • Supports version control

  • Provides support for rights management