A laboratory notebook is one of a scientist's most valuable tools if it is kept up to date, if its entries are complete, detailed and properly authenticated by witnesses, and if it is secure against damage and loss. Electronic notekeeping can be easier and more useful than traditional handwritten records. However, many scientists and lab managers who have relied on traditional paper-based records are concerned about depending on electronically recorded notes.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of currently available hardware and software? What do you look for in evaluating systems? Is there an ideal electronic notebook system that might someday be standard issue to all scientists?
Why Electronic Notes?
Computers can perform electronically much of the notekeeping that the research scientist traditionally does with pen and paper, including sample documentation, instrument calibration, raw data collection, and data reduction. Automated systems for sample handling and analysis are common in labor-intensive...
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