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Love Data @ Soton: Electronic Research Notebooks

Electronic Research Notebook (ERN) survey

The Library is undertaking a survey to better understand how staff and students at the university use Electronic Research Notebooks (ERN) to record their research. The results of the research will inform guidance and policy in the area of ERNs. The survey has ethics approval, ERGO73207.


The survey is now closed
The survey ran from 17.00 UTC on 7th December 2022 to the end of January 2023.

Participant Information Sheet

If you are interested in taking part in the survey, please read the participant information sheet first.

What is an ERN?

An ERN is a software system for documenting your research work. In its most basic form it might simply provide a word-processor-like interface to replicate the way you currently use a paper notebook, but with additional benefits such as shareability, searchability, password protection and backup. ERNs are also sometimes referred to as electronic lab notebooks, or ELNs, but their use does not have to be limited to a lab environment as they are useful for recording research notes in all disciplines.

Different ERN products

The University of Cambridge has produced an overview of different ERN solutions.

ERNs at Southampton

The University of Southampton has a long history of research in the area of electronic lab notebooks. in the early 2010s professors Jeremy Frey and Simon Coles led on the development of a ELN called LabTrove (see papers related to the project) and research on various aspects of the use of ERNs has been undertaken by students and staff. However the University does not currently have a favoured ERN solution, nor do we have help and guidance available to our staff and students to help them chose the best solution for their needs. The project the Library is currently undertaking should better inform the discussion at institutional level and will rectify the lack of supporting documentation such as best practice and 'how to' guides.