Electronic Lab Notebook Best Practices

Electronic Lab Notebook Best Practices

We’re listing the do’s and don’ts of electronic lab notebooks. In other words: Here’s how using electronic lab notebook best practices will make your lab the most efficient for you and your team.


Many experts agree that electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) are the best way to conduct research management. They’re more efficient than paper notebooks, more secure, and can be accessed from anywhere. A good ELN also allows you to easily track and standardize all of your experiments, manage your equipment, collaborate with other scientists, and share your findings with other members of your team or organization, and provides a straightforward lab equipment booking system. However, amidst all of their benefits, there are still some practices you’ll want to avoid with an ELN, as they can lead to problems down the line!

ELN Do’s

Here are some electronic lab notebook best practices to keep in mind when setting up the ELN in your lab:


  • Do use an ELN to keep track of all your experiments and their results

Using reports from the ELN, you can check which experiments have been performed, what type of results were obtained, and if any errors occurred during the process. You can also see how long it took for each experiment and how many times it was repeated successfully.


  • Do use an ELN to have a full overview of your lab data. 

If you’re leading a team or in a C-suite position, a big part of your work is monitoring the full scope of lab data and making decisions according to the data results. Electronic lab notebooks offer a full overview of information while keeping your data safe, making your laboratory data management easier and more productive. 


  • Do use an ELN to standardize your work. 

With a collaborative electronic lab notebook, you can create faster processes that are routine in your lab. Standardize processes and eliminate unnecessary steps, while using your ELN to create reminders about task completion and receive notifications when something goes wrong. 


  • Do use an ELN to control access to data. 

Share data access with departments on a need-to-know basis, but ensure summarizing reports are visible to members from other teams so they can stay up-to-date across departments and better support each other. This electronic lab notebook best practice is especially important if you are managing a multi-site lab or a large facility because it helps streamline communications between team members and improve productivity. 


  • Do use an ELN as a laboratory equipment booking system

There is a lot of activity in a lab, so it’s important that you have a system in place for keeping your equipment organized and easy to find when it’s needed, which will be often. Use the ELN laboratory equipment booking system to keep track of all of your equipment. However, not all ELNs are equipped for equipment management, so be sure to pick the best ELN for your lab.


Remember: the key to guaranteeing electronic lab notebook best practices is making sure your ELN is customized for your lab’s research management needs. Start with the basics—you can always add features as you need them.


ELN Don’ts

Running a lab is hard enough without having to worry about whether or not all of your experiments and research is organized and secure. Use this checklist of electronic lab notebook best practices to make sure your work is safe, standardized, and properly catalogued:


  • Don’t use an ELN that doesn’t have cloud backup.

When you store your data on a server, it’s important to have a backup system in place so your data will be safe and secure in case of breach or failure. Select an ELN with a cloud backup feature so that your information is never lost.


  • Don’t use an ELN that doesn’t have a good reporting function.

Reporting is a critical part of any business management software, but it’s especially important for an ELN. Choose an electronic lab notebook with a reliable reporting function to monitor your team’s output, to manage their workloads, and to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.


  • Don’t be complacent with the default settings of your ELN.

An ELN may not be compliant by default, so you’ll need to change and customize the settings before using it in production! There are two questions to keep in mind when setting up an ELN: Are there any industry regulatory requirements we should align our work to? And how can it serve my team best? 


  • Don’t use an ELN that doesn’t give you complete control over how your data is stored and accessed.

When it comes to laboratory data management, there are two things you need to keep in mind: 1) who has access to what, and 2) where all of this data is being stored. The more control you have over these two things, the safer your company’s data will be.


  • Don’t use an ELN that doesn’t have a strong security policy, including encryption and password protection.

Security is a top priority for any business. Whether you’re using an in-house solution or an ELN, you want to make sure that your data is as safe as possible. This means that you need to pick an ELN that has strong security measures such as encryption and password protection.


Electronic lab notebooks are the best way to manage your lab


By following these simple electronic lab notebook do’s and don’ts, you’ll see why ELNs are widely viewed as the best way to manage your lab. When electronic lab notebook best practices are applied, this tool allows you to easily keep track of all your data and experiment results—so you don’t have to worry about losing any information. ELNs also offer lab equipment booking systems and make sharing information with other people much easier than ever before. No more handwritten notebooks or stray paper sheets!


When it comes to using an ELN, the best way to get started is by evaluating your options. This is a great time to look into Pillar Science’s solution. The electronic lab notebook by Pillar Science is fully compliant with all of the latest regulations, and we make sure that every single piece of data is secure and encrypted—so you know it will stay safe.


If you’re looking for a way to make your business more efficient, contact us today!

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