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I have been using old style lab book for some time now but with increasing work on computer and storing sequencing results and gel pictures on computer it would be nice to have everything on computer in a form of labbook.

Does any of you uses a good ELN that would be free as I don't think university will be willing to pay for it :)

Thank you for your answers.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I still prefer the good old[tm] Labnotebook. No dependencies on (proprietary) software or a computer. I generate quite some digital data (blots, sequencing etc.) this is stored on the servers of my university. We looked into this in our lab, but discarded the idea pretty fast. Most solutions are either expensive and/or proprietary. Then a lot of these programs are not bought, but rented for a monthly or yearly fee, so once you are in you basically will not get out there anymore. Or it takes a lot of work. I found one free (for up to three projects), this is Labguru. There is an article about this on Bitesizebio, which has a few interesting comments. And there is another blog entry about this worth reading. One of the problems with ELN is a legal one, since a labbook is a legal document providing evidence a what has been done and the results of it. They can be very important when it comes to patent legal battles.

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I do not understand the legal problem here. So if I use it data that I put in my ELN might be partly owned by the company who is providing ELN or what? – MartinK Dec 17 '13 at 16:05
No, not that. But your entries have to be safe against manipulations. A bound book has numbered pages to prevent the removal of pages with non-fitting results. And it will probably be pretty difficult to move from one solution to another, when a product gets discontinued. – Chris Dec 17 '13 at 16:12

Although there are some definite advantages to physical labboos, and perhaps some legal obligations, I have been loosely using Synbiota for keeping track of general procedures to be done. It has a long list of interesting features, but I particularly like the integrated DNA editing tool, as well as the ability to share projects and updates with labmates.

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This is not a decision you, or even your lab can make on its own. Notebook policies are almost certainly developed by the lawyers of your university. It would be up to them to certify any change to those policies, in coordination with IT, who would have to be on board to guarantee the integrity of the electronic data.

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I am not sure what you need.

Probably Libre Office (a free MS Office like program, including a rich text editor, with image support) will suffice for you.

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