Stuart Higgins and colleagues describe in this review article the use of electronic laboratory notebooks (ELN) from different perspectives.
First, they analysed the ELN landscape by looking into the lifetime of 172 ELNs and found that the average lifetime of an ELN is around 7 years. Which doesn’t seem to be long considering that the first few ELNs were developed already in the 80ies and several dozen are available since the mid 2000s.
Second, ELNs are a central storage space to enable file and information sharing. Like this, ELNs can play a central role for collaborations and research networks.
Third, ELNs can contribute to increase data integrity and compliance with FAIR, but are not a solution for poor data management practices. Policies, training and enforcements are required to ensure adherence to best practices.
Fourth, the authors describe briefly the different costs and benefits for open-source and commercial solutions.
Based on these points , the article provides a framework for both the initial consideration of an electronic laboratory notebook and the evaluation of specific software packages.