Web has been a revolution in the way information is made available
and has become critical to high-level scientific and technical work
today. We are on the verge of a similar revolution in research and
development based on the replacement of paper notebooks with Web-based
The Electronic Notebook
1.10 is a breakthrough software system that provides researchers
in industry, medicine, and education the ability to replace their paper
notebooks, report logs or lecture notes with an easy-to-use web-based
notebook. The EN provides many capabilities unavailable to paper
notebooks including simultaneous sharing across a project group,
multimedia input, remote access, security and automatic notarization.
This combination of immediate benefits to the
science and engineering community, and vast long-term impact on
collaboration and records management across a wide range of industries
argues strongly for Electronic Notebook as among this years elite
products in research and development.
For hundreds of years, scientists and researchers
have been using laboratory notebooks to document their work. Leonardo
Da Vinci kept volumes of notebooks on all his ideas, data,
calculations, and art. Today, scientists traditionally use paper
notebooks to keep track of their experimental ideas, notes on
experimental setups, observations, and research results. Industry
researchers use notebooks to back up patent claims and record keeping
for State and Federal regulations. Medical researchers keep detailed
records on patients, treatments, and outcomes.
An electronic notebook is a system to create,
store, retrieve, and share fully electronic records in ways that meet
all legal, regulatory, technical, and scientific requirements. As such
it is much more than a web page or a Lotus Note. Federal regulations
require many records to be archived for 25 years. The web was not even
a dream 25 years ago and it is hard to predict what the interface to
computer information will be like 25 years in the future. Digital
signatures and tamper-proof electronic records have only recently been
accepted as legally binding. The shift in attention to the web has
accelerated the concept of paperless offices and paperless
The Electronic Notebook (EN) V1.10 accessed by
computer offers scientists all the features of the traditional paper
notebook, along with the capability to accept multimedia input (audio
and video clips) and computer-generated images, tables, and graphs
placed by drag-'n-drop. Everything is computerized today. Why
manually copy documentation into a paper notebook when you can cut and
paste it electronically? The electronic notebook can be used to input,
retrieve, or query objects such as text, sketches, images, tables,
graphs or even Excel spreadsheets.
The researchers use Common Gateway Interface (CGI)
scripts to access notebook pages. They have developed Java applets
(mini-programs written in the Java programming language developed by
Sun Microsystems) to enter objects into the notebook, such as a
pen-based sketch pad.
IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE:
the idea of laboratory notebooks is wide spread from pharmaceutical,
chemical, biotechnology, health care, oil and gas, and high-tech
hardware and software industries. As the science problems get harder
involving world-wide groups to solve them, as distance learning
matures, as record keeping volumes grow, as the internet changes
the way information is delivered, the time is right for an improved
record-keeping tool-the electronic notebook. Many technologies have
come together and the time is now right to make the electronic notebook
a powerful, replacement of the ubiquitous paper notebook.
EN V1.10 notebooks have many advantages over
paper notebooks. They can be shared by researchers, even those
collaborators separated by great distances. They can be accessed
remotely through the Internet. They can't be lost or destroyed. It is
easy to incorporate not only computer files and experimental data but
also multimedia into an electronic notebook. It can easily be searched
for information. It can contain hyperlinks to other information such
as a reference paper stored elsewhere on the Internet.
One of the great strengths of the EN V1.10
notebook is that it doesn't require any software to be installed on
a computer to read or write to it. It can be accessed by any
authorized user from any type of computer (platform) that has a Web
browser. In developing the Web-based electronic notebook architecture,
DOE researchers have focused on ensuring the security of the notebook.
Electronic notebook entries can be digitally authenticated and signed,
individually or collectively. They can be electronically time stamped
and notarized. While entries cannot be modified once signed, the pages
can be annotated and forward referenced. Entries can be secured by
encryption, both in transit and in storage. All these securities can
be performed transparently to the users, thus adding no complexity to
the user interface.
The EN V1.10 is designed with a very flexible
architecture, one that would allow both "private notebooks" and "shared
notebooks." A "private notebook" is envisioned as the equivalent of
the research notebooks carried by researchers; it is essentially a
one-user notebook that can run even on laptops with limited memory and
disk and graphics capabilities. For these notebooks, ease-of-use and
portability are typically more important than other issues. A "shared
notebook" is envisioned as the equivalent of the group research
notebooks and of the instrument notebooks; it is shared among many
users, some of whom might be remote to the server. For these
notebooks, issues of access control, security, and non-tamperability
are typically more important than portability.
The electronic notebook is a modern-day replacement
for the ubiquitous scientific notebooks, experiment records, and
instrument logbooks in use in research laboratories, medical centers,
and industries with research and development departments. The
advantages of this breakthrough software package over existing record
keeping methods are evidenced by the number and bredth of inquiries
that have been received.
The ability of the electronic notebook to be
remotely accessed and shared across a group of users allows the EN
V1.10 to be used for distance learning, training manuals, remote
instrument contol log, collaboration tool for sharing and commenting on
research ideas. This shared brainstorming provides the potential to
accelerate the process of scientific discovery in a way that was not
possible with paper notebooks.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY BENEFITS:
EN V1.10 is currently being used by over 200 groups
around the world. A full list of users and applications can be found
The applications can be broken down into the following categories:
Pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemistry
industries - a wide-range of industries have expressed interest in
the electronic notebook software. Those that have gotten copies are
listed on the abover URL. They include large corporations like BP
Chemical and DuPont to small companies like Medtronic, who build
pacemakers. Their applications vary, but are all related to the effort
to move towards a paperless R&D department.
Medical Research - the Harvard medical
research center, the University of Chicago medical center, St. Judes,
and several other institutions have gotten the software to use in
medical research. In addition EN V1.10 is being used by a growing
number of Oncologists. There is even one case where EN V1.10 is being
used to keep patient records in a family practice.
Government research labs - research projects
often span multiple laboratories. Before the electronic notebook, it
was much harder to be aware of and coordinate the various research
efforts within these larger projects. More than two dozen such
multi-lab projects now use the EN V1.10 software.
Instrument log - every major beamline in the
USA has gotten a copy of EN V1.10 for logging instrument use including
Fermi lab, Berkeley, Brookhaven National lab, Jefferson Lab, and Oak
Ridge National lab. The beamline instruments are all computerized so
the electronic notebook's ability to automatically collect instrument
data makes it very attractive.
Education - being used by the Schodor
Educational institute in elementary school science classes, being used
in undergraduate classes by several universities around the world, and
being used in graduate schools in the USA.
Private notebooks - a large number of users
who have replaced their paper notebooks with a private electronic
notebook which among other things allows them to easily move entries
from their private notebooks to shared notebooks.