Scientists have traditionally relied on paper and Excel spreadsheets to record and analyze data. But a growing number of researchers in academia and biomedical or pharmaceutical companies are adopting Electronic Lab Notebooks,, for everything from collecting data to deriving scientific insights. The reason? Modern research is too complex, and the amount of data generated is simply too great to manage on Excel. Worse still, Excel’s features are often detrimental to the proper storage of scientific data.
Ensuring Data Integrity
Excel is infamously bad for science. A 2016 study found that Excel autocorrections are the source of major typos in 20% of scientific articles discussing genes. As it turns out, Excel regularly changes gene names into dates or numbers, a problem that can be easily missed when entering large amounts of data. The autocorrect feature is also impossible to disable permanently, which means that researchers must locate and manually edit all autocorrected gene names - a process riddled with human error and forgetfulness. Using an ELN ensures data integrity by storing unaltered data from a plethora of sources securely. And unlike Excel, an ELN’s automations are exclusively user-defined.
Experiment Planning and Tracking
Planning an experiment in Excel is time-consuming and rarely collaborative. Tracking experiments in an assortment of Excel spreadsheets is virtually impossible and is susceptible to human errors, not to mention time-consuming. Taken together, these disadvantages stifle the cooperation that enriches research and slow down progress. ELNs enable scientists to create experiment templates that can be shared and cloned to promote consistency, collaboration, and reproducibility. ELN software also allows researchers to collect data and track an experiment’s progress from anywhere in the world, empowering them to make crucial data-based decisions in real-time.
Repetitive Task Automation
Working with Excel to record and analyze data can be mind-numbingly repetitive. And this can take its toll on scientists who find themselves devoting most of their day to repetitive tasks instead of focusing on cutting-edge research. The good news is that a state-of-the-art ELN can automate data collection and processing, saving up to 75% of the time old-fashioned labs spend managing and updating lab notebooks. Leveraging ELN software to automate data processing and analysis also saves about 20% of researchers’ work hours, freeing them to focus on innovation.
Lab Instrument Integration
In the olden days, scientists used paper notebooks to jot down data from various lab instruments, before manually transcribing it all into Excel spreadsheets and figuring out how to consolidate the different data types. Transcription mistakes were made along the way, leading to erroneous data and, occasionally, data loss. An ELN eliminates the tedious manual transcription steps and prevents human errors and data loss by integrating all lab instruments. Advanced ELNs can also collect, organize, and analyze data automatically, ensuring accuracy and freeing researchers to invest more resources in their experiments.
Intellectual Property Protection
Excel offers no IP protection, meaning that after laboring to collect and analyze scientific data on Excel, researchers may end up with nothing to show for it. Fortunately, a well-designed ELN can solve this problem by allowing users to sign and witness their experiments in real-time, protecting their IP in full regulatory compliance. This provides all researchers – from professors eager to publish to R&D specialists seeking patentable results – with the confidence to go forth and collaborate.
Why should you ditch Excel for Labguru ELN software?
Scientific breakthroughs have resulted in labs routinely generating vast amounts of data, rendering Excel woefully inadequate. Labguru’s user-friendly data management solution (an electronic lab book integrated with LIMS) facilitates experiment planning and real-time tracking, providing you with tools to make informed decisions as you go. Our system integrates all lab instruments, eliminating manual transcription and the resulting errors and data loss while saving invaluable time. It also automates repetitive tasks, freeing you to focus on your research. Last but not least, Labguru ensures IP protection to help you monetize your findings.
To learn more about how Labguru can transform your research