Why make the switch and use an ELN?

There are many advantages to using an ELN to replace the traditional paper notebook. They provide extra value through the use of data and information, the design, organisation and maintenance of a knowledge repository, retaining historical versions of files and improved efficiency/productivity in the research groups.

Below is just a few key reasons to move your group onto digital practices.


Paper Research Notebook

Electronic Laboratory Notebook


Manual search required.

ELNs are designed to be searched by keyword or tag.

Managing and storing research data online

Data and research records may be spread across disparate systems. Paper Notebooks are susceptible to damage, loss or removal by existing personnel.

ELNs keep all your data, documents, policies and records together in one place, and help you better manage your research data. All data is managed in a data centre within New South Wales and is backed up to a secondary site within Australia.

Collaborating and sharing

Manual photocopying, or scanning and emailing of Notebook pages is required to share Paper Notebooks.

ELNs facilitate collaboration. Researchers can share data sets, pages or even entire Notebooks with fellow colleagues in your group or department – even with external collaborators.

Portability of data

Transporting your Paper Notebook is risky if you take the only copy of your experiment data and records offsite.

Access your ELN from any device with an internet connection from anywhere in the world. See Setting up your Mobile LabArchives account to set up your mobile or tablet.

Backing up your data

Each individual page of your Paper Notebook must be scanned into a computer or photocopied to ensure that you backup your records.

ELNs are backed up onto the cloud-based data storage site automatically every hour.

Lodging patents or records of invention

To enable patents or records of invention, physical Notebooks must be signed off by the lab supervisor to verify the date and time of data entry.

All data and attachments are time, name and date stamped, and all changes to the Notebook are recorded in an audit trail. Notebooks can be signed to indicate final approval by an authorised party.

Using PC2 facilities

Paper notebooks cannot be taken in or out of a PC2 laboratory as they cannot be decontaminated. Data must be scanned and or electronically exported.

ELNs can be used on the resident computers or tablets in your PC2 laboratory, and will be instantly available from your office or home. No scanning or duplication of information required.

Referring to SOPs, MSDS, Ethics, safety and risk assessments

SOPs and other important safety documents for experiments are often pasted into Paper Notebooks, making it harder to retrieve them in future. They can be easily accessible by all research group members.

Each experiment can be linked with an up-to-date SOP; or the current SOP file can be added to each experiment as an attachment. Ancillary safety documents can be included in or linked to ELNs and are immediately accessible.

Ensuring data security/privacy

Paper Notebooks containing industry non-disclosure or private patient information must be locked up.

ELNs can now be accessed using your Monash Authcate, and access to Notebooks can be restricted to authorised members of your research team.

Supervising students and researchers

Principal scientists/supervisors/lecturers must inspect physical Paper Notebooks in the laboratory or classroom.

Principal scientists/supervisors/lecturers can access all data and can add comments to research group members' and students' ELNs from any device 24/7.