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University of Cambridge Electronic Lab Notebook Trial 2017

Trial of Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) software, University of Cambridge, June-August 2017


On behalf of the University of Cambridge ELN Working Group, thank you very much for volunteering your time to participate in this trial of ELN software products. Your feedback will help us to identify the most popular and useful product, and will hopefully result in the provision of a University-supported service.

Please note - by your agreement to participate, personal details such as your name and email addresses may be shared with the vendors whose products are being trialled. 

Four products have been shortlisted: rSpace, LabArchives, sciNote and Open Science Framework. The first three are ‘conventional’ ELN packages that have much in common but different features sets and interfaces; the last is a more unusual approach which endeavours to accommodate and integrate many of the common software products and services that some individuals and groups are currently using on a DIY basis to fulfil some ELN functions.

The trial period will last for 2 months, from 12 June until 14 August, and during this time you should feel free to experiment with any or all of the products. We would ask however that you select one to be your ‘main’ trial product and that you test it thoroughly according to the instructions below, and provide complete and comprehensive feedback for that product using the appropriate form. If you have time and are motivated to try additional products, we would be very grateful for your views, but please only complete a feedback form for products you have been able to test thoroughly. 

Step 1 - Please watch all four introductory movies, and choose the product you'd like to evaluate:

Note also the following training resources that may help you to select a product, or provide assistance during your trial:

Step 2 - Subscribe yourself to the appropriate product support mailing list:

Please send any support requests to the following lists - DO NOT USE the vendors' own support portals. This will enable us to monitor support issues, and enable other trial participants to see an archive of previous requests. Each vendor is subscribed to the relevant list below.

To subscribe: To request support:
rSpace Support List
LabArchives Support List
sciNote Support List
Open Science Framework Support List

Step 3 - Create your account at the product website, and begin your trial

During your evaluation, we would be grateful if you could pay attention to the following aspects and functions of the software products – the feedback forms will ask you to provide scores for each.

  • Interface design. Do you like the ‘look and feel’ of the software? Is it easy and intuitive to use? Does it seem efficient and well-designed?
  • Workflow suitability. Does the software enable you to describe your normal working methods well? Does it suit your experiments?
  • Content creation tools. Please experiment with all writing and drawing tools, annotation features etc. Does the software support markup language, mathematical equations, chemical structures etc?
  • File management features. Are you able to upload files of various types/formats/sizes? Can you upload multiple files at the same time? Do you like how the software stores/presents the catalogue of uploaded files? Does the file handling seem fast enough?
  • Integration with other software and/or cloud services. Some ELN products offer integration with Office applications, charting software, data repositories etc. Do these features seem well designed and useful to you?
  • Collaboration features. Are you able to share resources/comments with members of your group? Can you invite people outside of your group to view or contribute to your ELN?
  • PI/supervisor features. Does the platform provide adequate oversight of your group's activities, and tools for you to provide feedback? Can you control levels of access to resources for your group members?
  • Export features. Can you export pages/experiments/data in a format that’s useful? Can you export the entire notebook in PDF or other formats?

Step 4 - when you're finished, please provide feedback using the appropriate form below:


If you have any general questions about the trial or require non-vendor-specific support, please contact

Thanks very much again,

The University of Cambridge ELN Working Group