The University offers an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) service to all University students, faculty, and staff. The ELN service provides users with the ability to easily create electronic lab notebooks that can be shared, viewed, managed, and controlled in a convenient browser-based system. Data from labs, instruments, workflows, and scientific experiments can be stored, managed, controlled and archived digitally. Access to this digital data can be controlled and monitored with user and group-based permissions. Data and information in the electronic lab notebooks can be organized and enhanced with built-in tools such as editors, widgets, plug-ins, and other software tools designed to enhance productivity and instruction. Using electronic lab notebooks can be an effective way to improve research staff productivity, enhance research integrity, and protect intellectual property.
The Electronic Lab Notebook service is powered by LabArchives, the recognized leader in cloud-based electronic lab notebooks. In LabArchives, data is always safe, protected and accessible anywhere with an Internet connection and browser. It is available to all University schools, departments, labs, instructors and students at no charge. A free LabArchives mobile app is available for Apple iOS devices and Android devices. The mobile app is available through the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.
You can log in to the ELN service with your University Computing Account via Pitt Passport. Convenient links to the ELN service can be found in My Pitt (my.pitt.edu), AskCathy (askcathy.pitt.edu) and the technology.pitt.edu web site.
ELN Considerations - Data Restrictions and Data Storage
The Electronic Lab Notebook service from LabArchives can be used to record, manage, and store a wide variety of data types in numerous file formats. Data types can include images, recordings, sketches, notes, formulas, annotations, comments and others. Raw data outputs from laboratory instruments can be imported into ELNS easily and efficiently. ELNs can also be used to capture field notes, video, and audio data in areas of study and research including social sciences and performing arts.
At this time, ELNs should only be used for data types that meet the classification of “Low Risk” or “Moderate Risk”. Data and related information assets that meet the classification of “High Risk” should NOT be entered into ELNs. Examples of “High Risk” data include Social Security Numbers, Date of Birth, Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI), Export Controlled information under current U.S. laws, bank/financial account numbers, and others. Personal Health Information (PHI) protected by HIPPA privacy rules and student education records protected by FERPA should NOT be entered into ELNs.
Identifiable sensitive human subject data meets the classification of “High Risk” and should NOT be entered into ELNs.
Primary investigators need to be cognizant of restrictions and safe-handling practices required by federal law and University policy before populating ELNs with data from research and studies.
The following links can provide more details on the proper use of electronic lab notebooks:
- University Data Classification Matrix
- University Library System - Hosted Resource Guide for Data Management
- University Library System - Overview Research Data Management Support
- University of Pittsburgh (Office of the Provost) Guidelines on Research Data Management
- Keeping a Lab Notebook: Basic Principles and Best Practices (NIH)
- U.S. Federal Government Office of Research Integrity – Notebook and Data Management
- Best Electronic Notebook Practices from the University of Wisconsin
Currently there are no restrictions to the amount of data or the number of notebooks that can be created in the electronic lab notebook service. However, there is a limit on the maximum individual file size that can uploaded at one time of 250MB. Multiple files of less than 250MB can be uploaded without restrictions.
- Organization: All lab data including text, spreadsheets, PDFs and more are stored in a central, secure location.
- Search: Locate the data you need quickly by searching for keyword, user name, or date.
- Manage: Keep abreast of developments in your lab even while traveling.
- Protect: Lab data is protected from catastrophic loss or deletion. The notebook stores every version of every file.
- Continuity: Notebook data from departed researchers or students can be preserved.
- Share: Data can be shared within a workgroup, a class, or with collaborators around the world. You control who can view, comment on, and record entries.
- Export: Data and content stored in LabArchives can be imported from and exported to formats like Microsoft Word and Excel, Adobe PDF, and Google documents.