Finding the Definitive LibGuide on Electronic Lab Notebooks

[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] I owe a lot to the CHMINF listserv, which has steered me towards many invaluable resources (from the reference manager/online catalog Mendeley to the open access peer-reviewed scientific journals on the Public Library of Science (PLoS)).  While browsing through the CHIMNF-L Archives, I came across a discussion from October 2011 that linked to one of my favorite types of resources:  LibGuides.  This listserv discussion links to an excellent LibGuide from the University of Utah that covered the subject of Electronic Lab Notebooks. Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) are defined by Wikipedia as:

 a software program designed to replace paper laboratory notebooks. Lab notebooks in general are used by scientists, engineers, and technicians to document research, experiments, and procedures performed in a laboratory. A lab notebook is often maintained to be a legal document and may be used in a court of law as evidence. Similar to an inventor’s notebook, the lab notebook is also often referred to in patent prosecution and intellectual property litigation.

Patent professionals benefit when researchers utilize ELNs to methodically document their findings in a format that is easy to search and share. Researchers, check out this LibGuide that contains a list of subscription and free ELNs that you can utilize during your next project.

After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at the free ELNs included on the LibGuide list, and we’ll also take a look at a key search strategy for prior art searchers!

The LibGuide Research Data, created by Daureen Nesdill, M.S., M.L.I.S. of the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, contains a number of useful sections, such as lists of Data Repositories and Experimental Design & Statistics Resources. The section that we’ll focus on today is Electronic Lab Notebooks/Virtual Workspaces, which  contains:

  • Background information on ELNs (including diagrams illustrating how ELNs function).
  • ELNs at the University of Utah.
  • Reasons for using ELNs/virtual workspaces.
  • The Atrium Research list of ELNs.
  • Additional ELN products.

The ELN section of the Research Data LibGuide.

The “Atrium Research list of ELNs” contains information originally listed at the Atrium Research website, and the list includes links and comments on vendor ELNs, open source ELNs, and “general note taking and Management” tools.  The list of open source ELNs links to records on the website SourceForge, where users can freely download the open source ELN software.  The Atrium Research list includes the following open source ELNs (descriptions from SourceForge product records):
  • CyNote – Laboratory notebook using version control system and independent date-time stamping (as notarization), in order to ensure record accountability, auditing, and conforming to US FDA 21 CFR 21’s rule on electronic records.
  • LabJ-ng – LabJ-ng is a laboratory notebook for organic chemists. It has a client-server architecture with a web browsers interface. Data is stored on MySQL database. Chemical reactions are drawned in java applet window. See projct website for example.
  • Monster Journal  – The Monster Journal – An electronic journalling program to replace the paper notebook.The Monster Journal provides the user a centralized, easily accessible electronic notebook for storing thoughts, ideas, and answers to questions.
  • MyLabBook – The aim of MyLabBook is to create an online electronic lab notebook (ELN) that builds on on the Drupal framework. Features include Semantic Web technologies, graphing and plotting, Google maps, and other analysis capabilities.
  • Open enventory  – Web-based Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) with integrated Chemical Inventory by the group of Prof. Goossen (TU Kaiserslautern, Germany), based on PHP/MySQL. Allows (sub-)structure search, reaction planning, management of spectra and literature.
  • PNNL – The Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) – a collaborative, web-based analog of the paper notebook. The ELN can be used to share and record text, images, 3-D molecular structures, live graphs, etc. and can be extended to support additional data types.
  • tags4lab -Electronic Laboratory Notebook based on Folksonomies and Semantic Web principles.

The product record for an open source ELN on SourceForge.

How is this relavent to prior art searchers?
Sure, it may be useful to researchers to have links to open source ELNs, but how is this list of ELNs useful to prior art searchers?  In reality, my method for locating this list is more useful to searchers than the actual contents of the list.  I found this list through the technique of pearl growing, where I located one relavent piece of information (the original listserv discussion) and followed the links/citations in the resource to locate additional useful references (the LibGuide and the list on the Atrium Research website).  Just as professional patent searchers will use a wide variety of resources to locate relavent prior art, searchers will also use a creative arsenal of search techniques to locate new sources and relevant prior art.  Information is interconnected in complex and surprising ways, and it takes a group of professionals to follow the tangled threads to the desired references.  Researchers, use the ELNs listed above to make the job easier for prior art searchers, who’ll appreciate the well-structured and searchable data accessible in the ELN.
Researchers, would you recommended any other ELNs?  Prior art searchers, do you have any creative search techniques that you’d recommend?  Let us know in the comments!

Patent Analysis from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


3 Responses

  1. Thanks for this nice post on ELN system. In paper Lab notebook, each page is signed and witnessed and therefor become a legal document. What about this ELN ? Can it serve as legal evidence in the court of law?

    • Hi Shamim – I don’t know if every ELN has similar features, but the first free ELN description for the Cynote product mentions “version control system and independent date-time stamping (as notarization), in order to ensure record accountability, auditing, and conforming to US FDA 21 CFR 21’s rule on electronic records.” I’m not a legal expert, so I don’t know if this feature would make the ELN records acceptable as legal evidence, but that seems to be the intent.

    • Hello,
      eLabFTW allows for timestamping experiments and be legally strong in a court of law.
      Also, it is a free and open source electronic lab notebook.

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