Research Computing helps coordinate HMS Labs and Cores in their Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) selection and implementation processes. If you are a PI, a Lab Data Manager, a Core Facility Director, or similar, and would like your group to start using an ELN, this webpage is for you. For more general information about ELNs, please visit the Harvard Longwood Medical Area Research Data Management website.
What is an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN)?
An Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) is an electronic tool that in its most basic form replicates an interface much like a page in a paper lab notebook. In an ELN you can enter protocols, observations, notes, and other data using your computer or mobile device. ELNs offer several advantages over the traditional paper notebooks; they facilitate good data management practices, providing for data security, auditing, and collaboration. ELNs can also manage inventories of samples, reagents and other supplies, as well as keeping track of equipment and equipment maintenance schedules. Additionally, some ELNs provide specialist scientific tools for chemical drawing or molecular biology.
Our ELN Services
If you are an HMS PI, Lab Data Manager, Core Facilities Director, or similar, our ELN Subject Matter Experts will meet with you to understand more about your group’s ELN requirements, and help you decide on an ELN Platform that meets your needs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a consultation.
ELN Platform support
We currently support 2 different ELN platforms.
eLabNext – HMS Research Computing is supporting an on-premise implementation of eLabNext as a Pilot. The eLabNext platform’s particular strengths are in tracking inventories of samples, supplies, and equipment and integrating them with experiments and protocols. We also would recommend this platform to labs or Core Facilities that may need to integrate with HMS file storage, or other HMS applications. On-Quad Labs, Departments, and Cores Facilities approved by the ELN Steering Committee are eligible to access the eLabNext Pilot free of charge. Visit eLabNext Research Application Platform for a more detailed description of the platform.
- RSpace (Coming soon)- The RSpace platform is supported by Harvard University IT (HUIT) in conjunction with the vendor, the Countway Library, and HMS Research Computing. RSpace connects to external data sources, other research tools, and data repositories, to meet researchers’ needs. HUIT provides an Enterprise Edition version of RSpace, and users would sign-in with their Harvard key. There is a per-user cost associated with this service that is available to Harvard University Schools and departments. Visit RSpace ELN Overview for Prospective Users for more details, or contact email@example.com
eLabNext Pilot Onboarding
Research Computing provides onboarding services for participants in the eLabNext Pilot. Our onboarding service includes:
- A kick-off meeting with ELN Subject Matter Experts and Product Owner
- Training of Key Users
- Leading Key Users through the steps to successfully implement the eLabNext platform
- Collaboration with Key Users to find the best way to organize the group’s notebooks
- Importing existing samples and catalogues from .csv files
- Account provisioning and troubleshooting
eLabNext Pilot Ongoing Support
Research Computing provides ongoing support for participants in the eLabNext Pilot. Our support service includes:
- Monthly HMS eLabNext User Group meetings, where the project team will update users on product enhancements, and users can share their successes and questions with other labs and the project team
- Ongoing account provisioning and troubleshooting
- Ongoing support from the Project team with any questions about eLabNext and how to make optimum use of the platform
- If you need features that are not currently supported, or integrations with other products, the project team will be happy to discuss these with you and coordinate with the vendor to find a timely solution.
eLabNext Pilot Offboarding
Research Computing recognizes the importance of securely offboarding users from all systems when they leave your lab. We have developed a process to ensure that all data remains accessible, and where appropriate, is transferred to a new owner.
eLabNext and RSpace Platform Comparison
eLabNext is a Division of Eppendorf, their ELN platform consists of three integrated modules eLABJournal, eLABInventory, and eLABProtocols, along with a Mobile app and optional apps and connectors. To learn more:
- View this video, a high-level overview of eLabNext, or
- See a detailed description of the eLabNext product from their website
RSpace focuses on integration with other products to meet researchers’ needs. To learn more:
- View this video, a high-level overview of RSpace, or
- See an overview of their ELN product from their website
Both products provide for rich text, tables, images, attached files, chemical drawings (ChemAxon). They also provide good searching options.
eLABJournal additionally supports fully integrated Protocols and Samples, and Office 365 Excel.
Both products provide for rich text, tables, images, attached files, chemical drawings (ChemAxon). They also supply good searching options.
RSpace additionally supports imports from Protocols.io and MS Word.
eLabJournal has a hierarchical organizational structure Groups-> Projects -> Studies -> Experiments.Users can organize work by project or by individual researcher within that structure. It is also possible to organize across Groups by defining Project Groups.
RSpace takes a very flexible approach to Journal organization, allowing users to organize their experiments within folders in any way they choose.
Protocols and SOPs
eLabNext RSpace eLabNext includes eLabProtocols which allows users to document and share step-by-step protocols, with protocol versioning. Protocols can be included within experiments, and integrated with samples and supplies. RSpace support protocols by integrating with Protocols.io, a separate product, which allows users to document and share step-by-step protocols, including versioning and branching.
eLabNext RSpace eLabNext includes a very mature and complete inventory module, eLABInventory. It enables users to create and configure their own sample types, equipment, and storage units. Samples can then be stored in specific locations within the storage units, and linked to experiments or protocols. The inventory module also enables labs to keep track of equipment and supplies, and can notify lab managers when supplies are getting low. RSpace can be integrated with eCAT, which is the vendor’s legacy inventory product. The vendor is also in the process of developing a new, more functionally rich, inventory module for RSpace, but it is not yet available.
Integration with other platforms
eLabNext can integrate with Dropbox, Mendeley, Google Drive, Google Translate, and certain barcode scanning and printing hardware. Contact RC or the current list of enabled integrations.
Additionally, users can upload files of any type and view or edit them with their associated desktop application.
RSpace can integrate with Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, Egnyte, ownCloud, Mendeley, Github, Slack, MS Teams and protocols.io. Contact HUIT or the current list of enabled integrations.
eLabNext RSpace eLabNext includes a Mobile app that augments the Web platform. It enables users to view Protocols and Experiments, take notes, upload images, and work with Samples. RSpace does not include a Mobile app, although it is possible to use the web app on a tablet.
Onboarding, Training, and Support
eLabNext RSpace HMS Research Computing provide a Pilot onboarding service that includes consulting, account provisioning, key user training, importing of existing samples and catalogs, and ongoing support. The vendor will provide additional support and consultation where necessary. HMS Research Computing will provide account provisioning and first line support. User training will be provided by the Countway Library. Second level support and application support will be provided by HUIT and/or the vendor.
eLabNext RSpace HMS ID (eCommons) Harvard Key
eLabNext RSpace HMS On-quad labs and Cores approved by the ELN Steering Committee will be given free access to the eLabNext Pilot. Harvard University Schools/Departments (this is a per user fee-based service)