Pro Tips for your ELN

Table of content

Language
Settings
Full audit trail
Download content from the entry history
Define common and short nomenclature for entry titles
Collapse entries to get a project overview
Use ‘Copy to end’ to reuse entries in the same project
Sign and Witness your entries
Create offline archives with XHTML

No scientist is the same, so why should your electronic notebook be? We know this, so we have made sure that you can customize labfolder to your needs. Two of the most important things would be the language and settings.

Language

Firstly, you have the possibility to change the language. Yes, yes we know that most scientific work is done in English, but the way you interact with your digital lab notebook doesn’t need to be. This is why labfolder is currently available in German, English, and French. This is how you can select a different language:

Change the language between English, German, and French

    1. Go to your Profile.
  1. Click on edit below the Contact section.
  2. Change the language to your desired one.
  3. Click save.

Settings

In Settings, you will also find 2 options that will overhaul your lab notebook layout. To find your settings, go to Settings in the menu under your user icon. Both settings refer to how you will see the data in your notebook.

Sort entries in your ELN

The first is how you wish to sort entries. This can be either by the Date of creation, which is the default option, or by the Date of modification. Sorting by the date of modification is especially useful when working on group projects. This option allows you to easily visualize the latest work that has been done in all your projects.

Display entries

The second layout setting to look at is how entries are displayed. The two options here are to see data with the Oldest on top, the default option, or see the Newest on top.

Our aim is to make the transition from paper to digital lab notebook as smooth as possible. With paper, you would have the oldest data at the front of the book. The option of having Oldest on top reflects the layout of a paper notebook, whereas having Newest on top is more common with digital platforms (think of LinkedIn, News sites, etc.).


Full audit trail

A key feature of your ELN is the fact that all entry creations and edits to entries are recorded, along with the time and date of the action. This is then collected as a full audit trail, which can be viewed alongside the entry.

See your entry history

  1. Go to your Notebook.
  2. Find the entry you wish to see the history for.
  3. Click on the gearwheel icon and select History.

You will then be able to see every single change made to the entry, each edit with a date and timestamp. You can look through the edits by clicking on them and you will be shown the entry as it was when that edit was made. This is useful for identifying at which point a mistake was made or just generally keeping track of what was done when.


Download content from the entry history

Another handy feature you can use your entry history for is in case you delete an element or piece of data from an entry. You are able to go to the entry history, select the edit before you deleted the data, and download your data from the historical view. You can download files, images, sketches, and tables. Text elements cannot be downloaded, but you are able to just select and copy the text within.

Download content from history

    1. Go to the entry History.
    2. Find the last edit right before you deleted the data or element.
    3. Here you will see the entry still with the deleted data.
    4. Click on the arrow in the top right corner of the element.
  1. Select Download.

Define common and short nomenclature for entry titles

Whether you are a large or small number of people working in a lab or on projects together, it is advisable to make sure you are all consistent in how you name entries. This then makes it easier for others to find your entries and identify the contents. Correct titling for data may also be needed for complying with certain standards or regulations. It is also just advisable to make data management easier.
We suggest that you use short names and that it includes information that can never be altered: like the initials of the author’s name and date of creation of the entry.

Collapse entries to get a project overview

By pressing the ^ arrowhead on the right side of the entry header, you can collapse the entry. This means that only the entry header will be visible. If an entry has been signed and witnessed, there will be a footer under the header with this information.

Collapse entries for a project overview

By collapsing the entry, you can get a clearer overview of everything contained in one project. Rather than scrolling through all of the contents, having clearly defined and titled entries enables you to see what has been done in the project. To visualize the entry again, click on the arrowhead, which will now be pointing downwards.


Use ‘Copy to end’ to reuse entries in the same project

Imagine you want to repeat an experiment you have documented in your ELN. It would be a lot of effort to make sure the entry format is the same as the first and have to be checking between the two. To make this process quicker and easier, you can find a Copy to end option in the menu under the gearwheel of the entry.

Reuse entries in the same project

Doing this replicates the entry. You can then edit it and change all the values within to the data from your new experiments. Copying the entry not only makes it quicker to have the same layout, but this ensures consistency in the data structure, making it easier to look through and manage.

The next two features (Sign & Witness and XHTML exports) are exclusive to the Advanced version. Schedule a demo with labfolder and see these tools in action.

Schedule a demo

Sign and Witness your entries (Advanced version only)

Most likely if you are an industry lab, entries and their data will need to be signed and witnessed by other team members or supervisors. This might be in order to comply with FDA regulations or ISO standards.

Start by installing the Sign & Witness app from the Manage > Apps page.

Use the Sign and Witness app

To Sign your entries and send them for witnessing, these are the necessary steps:

You can sign and witness your entries

    1. Go to the entry you need to sign and have witnessed.
    2. Click the gearwheel icon and select Sign.*
    3. You can sign with a written signature or through your login credentials.
    4. The option to send the entry to a colleague to witness then appears.
    5. Select the user you want to witness your entry and press Send.
    6. The entry will now have a footer including information on who has signed and witnessed the entry and when. A unique hash-sum is also added to the entry’s footer, related to the data recorded.

*You can only sign entries that are your own and can only witness those of others.

Create offline archives with XHTML (Advanced version only)

With labfolder you can export your entire notebook’s content, to be stored for your record and to provide a sort of snapshot of what you had in your notebook at that particular time.

To do this first you need to install the XHTML Export app from the Manage > Apps page.

Download the XHTML app

Then head over to the Settings and follow these steps:

Export entries to XHTML

  1. Under New export click Start new export.
  2. Press start export and all the projects you own will be exported.
  3. You will be notified when the export document has been generated. The notification is displayed in the notification bell located on the top right-hand side of the browser window.
  4. Go back to Settings and download the .zip file containing your export.

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