Getting Started With Electronic Research Notebooks In LabArchives


The University of Pittsburgh offers a cloud-based Electronic Research Notebook service–formerly referred to as Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)–to all University students, faculty, researchers, and staff. LabArchives research notebooks can be used to organize and manage laboratory data safely and conveniently using multiple platforms and devices. Whether managing a research lab as a principal investigator or reviewing students’ lab work as an instructor, LabArchives can be used to ensure effective research data management plans and help improve student learning.

 Two additional products are now available — Lab Inventory and Lab Scheduler.


Key Benefits

  • Add attachments, files, photos, and data instantly - it gets backed up and protected immediately.
  • Store any types of data you chose - rich text data, tables, images sketches, as well as annotations of images.
  • Store and organize in an intuitive folder structure - then keep everything sorted the way you want.
  • Share and collaborate selected content with others, or keep it private - work, build, organize, share.
  • Assign, grade, monitor and communicate with your students - early detection of student misconceptions and under performance.
  • Provisioning for data compliance - supports funding agencies data management plans and requirements.
  • Provide continuity - notebooks from departed researchers and staff can be preserved.
  • Manage your lab environment - keep abreast of developments in your lab even while traveling.
  • Search and preserve research data - Maintain notebook integrity and reproducibility. Notebooks store every version of every file and are time-stamped to guard against misconduct.

Getting Started with Electronic Research Notebooks is Easy

Activate your account using one of the following options:

You are a student who received an invitation to use an Electronic Research Notebook as part of a course
First time login for faculty, staff, or other lab personnel

Enhance your Electronic Research Notebooks experience:

Set Up Your Mobile Device

Use your Electronic Research Notebooks:

Access your account anywhere

Take a quick tour to see how the Electronic Research Notebook service works.

More Ways to Get the Most from Electronic Research Notebooks

LabArchives Inventory
LabArchives Scheduler
Frequently Asked Questions

What is LabArchives as opposed to Electronic Research Notebooks?

Electronic Research Notebooks is the name of the University's enterprise lab notebook service that is accessed via the My Pitt website. It requires a University Computing Account username and password. The service is powered by LabArchives, a leading cloud-based electronic notebook provider.

Is there a cost?

The University has negotiated an institution-wide LabArchives site license that entitles all faculty and staff to Professional licenses at no cost to departments. Students can access LabArchives under the Classroom edition license at no cost.

How do I log in to Electronic Research Notebooks?

You can log in to Electronic Research Notebooks (LabArchives) via My Pitt ( You can also log in from the main webpage. If you are logging in from an off-campus location, you will have to select University of Pittsburgh from the list of participating institutions.

How much storage space do I have?

There is currently no limit on the amount of storage space a person may use with LabArchives cloud storage. However, individual file sizes can be no larger than 4 GB.

Should I update the to the latest version of LabArchives on my mobile device?

You should always keep LabArchives on your mobile device up-to-date. The latest version is available in the iTunes store or Google Play.

Where will my data be stored?

All lab notebook data is saved on the secure LabArchives cloud storage site, where it can be accessed from anywhere on the internet. Data sets are tagged and dated so that older or accidentally overwritten data sets can be recovered by opening an earlier version of a notebook.

What is the maximum file size I can upload?

LabArchives cloud storage is not capable of supporting the upload of files larger than 4 gigabytes (GB). If you need to reference a data set or image that is larger than 4 GB, you will have to consider using another cloud-based storage service and linking the file to your LabArchives notebook.

Where do I obtain support for Electronic Research Notebooks?

For general access and interface questions, contact the Technology Help Desk. In-depth tutorials on the LabArchives interface, quick start guides, and interactive chat support is available via the LabArchives support page.

Where training materials are available for Electronic Research Notebooks?

A number of helpful introductory videos are available on the LabArchives Video Tutorials YouTube page.

Is LabArchives for labs only or can individuals use it, too?

The LabArchives interface is designed as a collaborative platform to support lab research activities. However, individuals with no lab affiliation can take advantage of the data storage and tracking capabilities as well. The creation of a notebook is not dependent on an associated lab, project, or course. All you need is a University Computing Account username and password.

Will I be able to use Electronic Research Notebooks with collaborators outside my lab or from other institutions?

Yes. Lab notebooks can be shared with other collaborators. To delegating access click the three-line Menu options iconNotebook Settings,  then User Management. In order to grant another individual access to a notebook, you will need to know the email address that they use to log in to LabArchives. For University users, this will be their Pitt Email address. You should familiarize yourself with the various roles that can be assigned to collaborators and what permissions those roles include. More information on roles that can be assigned is available on the LabArchives knowledge base entry on adding users

Why should I use LabArchives instead of Box, Google Drive, or a similar service?

The LabArchives interface makes retrieving previous versions of notebooks much easier than other cloud-storage platforms. LabArchives saves all previous notebook versions so it is easier to step back through recorded data transactions to track down where a problem may have occurred. This functionality is not available on other cloud storage systems that are not tailored for research. Also, sharing notebooks with other collaborators within a University area while retaining control of the original dataset is simple and easy to do.

How will I access my notebooks if the network is unavailable?

The cloud-based nature of the LabArchives data store means that lab notebook data is accessible through any internet connection, not just via the University network. If PittNet is unavailable, you will still be able to log in to your lab notebooks from other network access points, such as home networks, other institutions, or by using the broadband access on your smartphones or mobile device.

How long must I retain my notebooks?

Retention requirements for logged notebook data will follow any data management rules in effect for the overarching research project, organizing lab, or class. There is currently no expiration on the life of notebooks stored on the LabArchives data store. If storage space is an issue, lab notebook data can be exported either to PDF or to an "offline" mode, which is essentially HTML-based but saved somewhere outside of the LabArchives system.

If I am a researcher leaving the University, can I take my notebooks with me?

The disposition of electronic lab notebooks of research staff departing the University falls under the same Guidelines for Research Data Management as other types of research data. If you are leaving the University, you will need to transfer ownership of all your notebooks to another University account for recordkeeping purposes. Departing staff can use the PDF or offline notebook export functions to create portable copies of lab notebooks, if permitted.  

How do I transfer ownership from a notebook I manage to someone else?

Notebook owners can transfer ownership by clicking the three-line Menu options iconNotebook Settings,  then User Management.

What types of data can I store in LabArchives notebooks?

LabArchives notebooks should not be used to store any kind of personally identifiable data and/or medical data consistent with HIPAA and FERPA standards. In addition, state and University policies may also restrict the storage of certain types of data on LabArchives. Anyone using the Electronic Research Notebooks service needs to be cognizant of these considerations before populating notebooks with research data. Data that is considered high-risk should not be logged in Electronic Lab Notebooks. The University's Data Classification Matrix has more information on different data types and how they should be stored electronically. The following links provide additional information about the proper use of Electronic Research Notebooks:

Are there any things I should consider when starting to use Electronic Research Notebooks that will make my life easier?

Students or researchers that are new to Electronic Research Notebooks should consult the University of Wisconsin's guide to best notebook practices before beginning to log data.

What should I do if my entire lab is closing down and moving to another university?

If you are part of a migration to another university, see that new LabArchives accounts are created at the new institution and then transfer data ownership to the new accounts before your University Computing Account access is terminated. If LabArchives is not the supported format at the destination institution, use the notebook export functions to create portable archives. Please refer to the Office of Research Protections' General Procedures for Closing Laboratories for additional information about closing your lab.

Can Alumni use Electronic Research Notebooks?

No. Per the University's licensing agreement with LabArchives, Alumni are not eligible to use Electronic Research Notebooks. Any alumni that require access to LabArchives will need to talk to their affiliated department's Responsibility Center Account Administrator about creating a sponsored account that can be used to access the Electronic Research Notebooks service.

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Article ID: 417
Wed 8/23/23 4:13 PM
Tue 2/13/24 3:33 PM

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LAB MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS LabArchives research notebooks can be used to organize and manage laboratory data safely and conveniently using multiple platforms and devices.