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As research becomes predominantly digitalized, scientists have the option of using electronic laboratory notebooks to record and access entries. These systems can more readily meet volume, complexity, accessibility and preservation requirements than paper notebooks. Although the technology can yield many benefits, these can be realized only by choosing a system that properly fulfills the requirements of a given context. This review explores the factors that should be considered when introducing electronic laboratory notebooks to an academically focused research group. We cite pertinent studies and discuss our own experience implementing a system within a multidisciplinary research environment. We also consider how the required financial and time investment is shared between individuals and institutions. Finally, we discuss how electronic laboratory notebooks fit into the broader context of research data management. This article is not a product review; it provides a framework for both the initial consideration of an electronic laboratory notebook and the evaluation of specific software packages.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Protoc

Publication Date





179 - 189