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How to Choose the Right Electronic Laboratory Notebook

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Summation

  • Similarly, if it plans to use multiple types of data formats or specialized tools, such as smart tags or RFID tags, then it may be beneficial to select the one that can be upgraded.
  • You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you can no longer store desired information due to a lack of space.
  • If a lab has specific requirements for information capture, then it is prudent to look for an ELN that can easily accommodate its unique approach to data collection.

You’ve conducted extensive research on ELN providers. You feel very well-informed, yet you’re having a hard time completing your search. What’s missing?

A clear sense of your priorities when it comes to selecting an electronic laboratory notebook. Now, however, your organization is undergoing a major growth spurt, likely to happen as the global pandemic ends. You need to go paperless!

Keep reading to learn how to compare ELN providers and choose the right one for your organization to thrive. Let’s get started!

Determine the Purpose of the Notebook

When choosing an electronic laboratory notebook, it is important where you’ll be using it. What functionality do you need? For instance, do you need an ELN that allows you to track experiments, store data, or generate reports?

Do you want an ELN that is user-friendly and has an intuitive user interface? The team at SciNote Electronic Lab Notebook, helps humanity benefit the most from science and preserve research data for future generations.

By taking the time to evaluate its function, you’ll be able to decide the best one for you and your business.

Contemplate the Storage Space

It may be wise to evaluate how many projects and how much data you are likely to store in the system over time. Will your demands remain relatively low, or do you expect your usage to grow and require more memory in the future?

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can no longer store desired information due to a lack of space. Ultimately, you want to select the system that provides adequate room to meet all your present and future requirements without breaking the bank.

Consider the Ability to Access it From Different Locations

Select an ELN that is accessible on the cloud. It will let you open the application, review documents, and carry out experiments through a web browser on any device wherever you are in the world.

For additional security, look for an ELN that requires authentication measures, data encryption, or maybe two-factor authentication. This will assure access is secure and any documents stored are only accessed by the people who are granted permission.

Having access from different locations will save you time and resources. It’ll give convenience when attempting to collaborate with colleagues who are geographically dispersed. Also, it will allow multiple people to update the ELN simultaneously.

Analyze the Level of Security Required

Data stored in these notebooks should be kept secure and prevent unauthorized access. Here are some of the factors to consider when selecting an ELN:

  • Encryption of stored data
  • Access control
  • Permission levels
  • Logging of user activity

For example, security protocols should be in place to safely protect data from internal and external threats. They should also have features to enable editing, but also have in place a way to audit logs to see if or when critical changes were made.

Lastly, encryption of stored data should be a must, as access can be limited if the data is stored in an encrypted form.

Evaluate the User Interfaces of Various ELNs

Another important factor is to evaluate the user interfaces of the various ELNs. It is essential to look at the user-friendliness, navigation, and customization capabilities of each.

The usability of the ELN should be easy to learn as well as work with for each individual user. Additionally, you have to ensure that it offers easy configuration options that are compatible with the organization’s IT policies and SOPs.

Moreover, administrators should be able to search capabilities and compatibility with a variety of external file formats.

Know Whether it Can Be Upgraded or Customized

Upgrading and customizing an ELN can help it more easily fit the specific needs of the laboratory. If a lab has specific requirements for information capture, then it is prudent to look for an ELN that can easily accommodate its unique approach to data collection.

Similarly, if it plans to use multiple types of data formats or specialized tools, such as smart tags or RFID tags, then it may be beneficial to select the one that can be upgraded. Furthermore, certain ELNs may be customizable to enable greater flexibility and better fit the lab’s needs.

Customization can include changes to the templates, forms, and reports, as well as the creation of specific calculations and automated processes.

Research into Different Platforms

Many platforms offer similar features, but it is important to research each alternative thoroughly. Consider features such as:

  • Affordability and complexity
  • Installation and maintenance requirements
  • Security and scalability
  • User interface and user experience
  • Technology integration
  • Vendor reliability

Ask around for the experiences of other users of the platform, and read reviews by independent observers. If possible, arrange a technology demonstration so you can understand its capabilities in more depth.

Once you have chosen your platform, ensure that you and your team have received adequate training to get the most out of the system.

Check if the Cost Fits Your Budget

A successful ELN solution for your organization will depend on the budget. There are many options available today ranging from low-cost options to more expensive enterprise solutions.

Consider the budget allocated for the project and the costs associated with purchasing, deploying, and maintaining the solution.

Scan the Vendor’s Customer Support Services

Make sure the vendor has customer service representatives available for questions, comments, or technical support. Additionally, know whether or not they offer online support and tutorials, user forums, and other helpful resources for users.

If a vendor is not readily available to give support, it may be beneficial to consider a different provider that is reliable. Researching customer reviews and testimonials of the customer service offered by the vendor will help you decide if they can meet your needs.

Moreover, be sure the support information is easily accessible and visible on its website.

There is a wide range of ELNs to select from, and choosing the right one for your laboratory is no easy task. Consider the criteria available and take advantage of the trial periods available from vendors to find the best for your lab.

With all these points taken into consideration, you can be sure that you’ll select the best ELN and that your laboratory is optimally supported. Get started now and take the appropriate steps today!

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