Electronic Lab Notebooks

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HappyQuark
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Electronic Lab Notebooks

Postby HappyQuark » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:50 am

I'm curious about what format everyone uses as their lab books and, more specifically, if anyone has found or managed a good electronic format. Previously I've used an adapted LaTeX class called LabBook. It's convenient because I know TeX better than any other math typesetting system. However, I know that in many lab settings it's important to use paper based lab books with pre-numbered, non-removable pages to ensure data isn't altered or removed, which isn't really a possibility with the LabBook class. From what I've seen, it seems this data altering fear was made into a bigger deal in fields like chemistry and biology than it was in physics, so I guess I'm also interested in seeing how often other physicists felt compelled/were required to follow strict lab book practices.

bfollinprm
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Re: Electronic Lab Notebooks

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:08 pm

Me too. I think it's because we physicists are more like programmers than lab scientists.

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grae313
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Re: Electronic Lab Notebooks

Postby grae313 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:44 pm

Your adviser will set the tone as to lab notebooks. In my experience, the more theoretical your work is the less it seems to be required. I did my undergraduate research at NASA and now work in a biophysics lab, so I have been trained that a lab notebook is an essential, legal document that is the property of your employer and must never leave the lab. It's also very helpful for me in my research to have a written record every day of what I've done. I date every page, write in pen, cross things out without scribbling them out, and cross off and sign any blank space left on the page at the end of the day. All of my printed results get pasted into my lab notebook.

On the other hand, my boyfriend is a theorist and he doesn't have a notebook. He does all of his work on his personal laptop which he occasionally brings home with him. It all depends on your adviser's attitude.

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zxcv
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Re: Electronic Lab Notebooks

Postby zxcv » Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:32 pm

I'm a theorist who scans my old lab notebook into PDFs when I finish them. I even threw one away since it was falling apart. Does that count?

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HappyQuark
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Re: Electronic Lab Notebooks

Postby HappyQuark » Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:25 pm

From what little digging I've done into the subject, it seems that the only options for an ELN are ridiculously expensive lab/data management suites that only major government labs and research companies bother to use. It also seems to me that an affordable/personal ELN for the rest of us in academia is an untapped market that wouldn't be that difficult to implement. In essence it's just a standard electronic journal/notebook that would assign time stamps to the creation and alteration of any aspect of the notebook. Add in some LaTeX integration, rudimentary spreadsheets/tables (or do like AutoCAD and allow people to embed excel/SPSS/etc tables into the document and then perform all of your calculations through the respective piece of software), drag and drop images for diagrams and allow it to be exported in PDF format and you're done.

samanta33
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Re: Electronic Lab Notebooks

Postby samanta33 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:08 am

I just started using journler too, a few weeks ago. The only thing it won't do for me is export attached files when I export entries. Journler is scriptable so I should be able to make my own export format with an AppleScript, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
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