Electronic Laboratory Notebooks and ePortfolios

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks and ePortfolios

Centred in the practical environment is the concept of detailed note-taking and report generation.  For undergraduate students, observations, experimental results and data have been traditionally reported in paper format.  However, the dawn of the digital era has heralded the introduction of the option of electronic lab reporting.

The electronic approach to reporting brings many advantages such as sharing of data, data searching facilities, back up possibilities preventing data loss, incorporation of user-defined templates as well as security.  In addition, essential metadata can also be recorded with every entry being time/date stamped.  Having students engage with these approaches can prepare them for future electronic reporting in various industries/employment environments.

The concept of electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) has now become an industry in itself, with over 30 reported vendors competing in this area.  The ELN providers have developed the technology to allow ePortfolio generation, a concept students can engage with to demonstrate skills and abilities to potential employers.

Further Reading

  • Johnston, J., Kant, S., Gysbers, V., Hancock, D., & Denyer, G. (2014). Using an ePortfolio system as an electronic laboratory notebook in undergraduate biochemistry and molecular biology practical classes. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 42(1), 50–57.
  • Kihlén, M. (2005). Electronic lab notebooks - Do they work in reality? Drug Discovery Today, 10(18), 1205–1207.
  • Kihlén, M., & Waligorski, M. (2003). Electronic lab notebooks - A crossroads is passed. Drug Discovery Today, 8(22), 1007–1009.
  • Machina, H. K., & Wild, D. J. (2013). Electronic laboratory notebooks progress and challenges in implementation. Journal of Laboratory Automation, 18(4), 264–8.
  • Rubacha, M., Rattan, A. K., & Hosselet, S. C. (2011). A review of electronic laboratory notebooks available in the market today. Journal of Laboratory Automation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jala.2009.01.002