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Electronic Research Notebooks: Types of ERNs

Record keeping is an essential part of effective data management, electronic research notebooks (ERNs) offer a digital approach to data collection.

Comprehensive ERN Evaluation Guide

The Harvard Biomedical Data Management program recently updated their comprehensive guide to many of the ERNs available to researchers. The guide includes a page for each individual ERM as well as a comparison grid so you can weigh the features most important to your work.

Free ERN Options

Subscription/Freemium based ERNs

Field specific ERNs

Tips about Choosing ERN


           Image of person writing a document on tablet.

  • Start with a free ERN before purchasing
  • Ask one person to pilot ERN
  • Open source notebooks are easier to customize
  • It may take a few pilots to find the right platform
  • Ask the Chemical Information Librarian for help!

Evaluating ERNs

When determining what type of ERN platform to adopt it can be helpful to think about the following criteria: 
Icons for user experience, interoperability and business model.
User Experience   
Multi-device compatibility
Browsers, operating systems & file types
Real-time collaboration
Instrument integration and open APIs
Licensing Model
Free Version (Yes or No)