Implementing an institution-wide electronic lab notebook initiative




electronic lab notebook, institutional collaborations, information management


Background: To strengthen institutional research data management practices, the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) licensed an electronic lab notebook (ELN) to improve the organization, security, and shareability of information and data generated by the school’s researchers. The Ruth Lilly Medical Library led implementation on behalf of the IUSM’s Office of Research Affairs.

Case Presentation: This article describes the pilot and full-scale implementation of an ELN at IUSM. The initial pilot of the ELN in late 2018 involved fifteen research labs with access expanded in 2019 to all academic medical school constituents. The Ruth Lilly Medical Library supports researchers using the electronic lab notebook by (1) delivering trainings that cover strategies for adopting an ELN and a hands-on demo of the licensed ELN, (2) providing one-on-one consults with research labs or groups as needed, and (3) developing best practice guidance and template notebooks to assist in adoption of the ELN. The library also communicates availability of the ELN to faculty, students, and staff through presentations delivered at department meetings and write-ups in the institution's newsletter as appropriate.

Conclusion: As of August 2021, there are 829 users at IUSM. Ongoing challenges include determining what support to offer beyond the existing training, sustaining adoption of the ELN within research labs, and defining “successful” adoption at the institution level. By leading the development of this service, the library is more strongly integrated and visible in the research activities of the institution, particularly as related to information and data management. 


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Case Report