The ability to store and sort large amounts of data makes electronic notebooks very appealing. They have been slow to be accepted as standard because of security issues. How can you guarantee the data is original and has not been compromised? Improvements in technology are addressing these issues but most institutions are still requiring paper records. Many researchers use a combination of electronic and paper records.
FDA published rules for acceptance of electronic documents in March 1997 Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part II (The FDA' current thinking on the issue is available online at http://www.fda.gov/cder/guidance/5667fnl.htm)
Few ELNs have been subjected to legal scrutiny.
Doubtful that many would pass the test
Most researchers in academia still using paper records
Ability to sort and search
Consistency of use throughout the lab
Ability to update records
Must have appropriate data entry for all the sort criterion
Have a standardized document naming protocol
A system for logging in reagents
Assign a designated individual to ensure that data management plan is executed
Write and implement Quality Assurance procedures
Include scheduled spot checks
Communicate responsibilities to all personnel
Decide what to store
Decide where to store it
Specify how to do it
Assign who will log the information
Finding the right data management system/laboratory information management systems
Is it compatible with your existing software?
Are other users satisfied?
Is there available system support?
How flexible is the system?
Does the system configuration meet your needs?
What is the required training?
How stable is the company selling the system?
Is it worth it?