Whatever people might think about the business methods of John D Rockefeller, nobody today questions the contribution of his legacy to medical science. Similarly, whatever the academic community thinks of the works of Microsoft, there is no question that the company has sponsored some good research.
November / December 2004
The modern scientific laboratory continually benefits from new technologies and instrumentation designed to provide new applications and to lighten ever-increasing laboratory workloads. However, new technology sometimes brings with it a complexity that the average research scientist has neither the time, nor inclination, to deal with. He or she would rather be able to simply process samples without needing to remember a complex series of steps, and just be told when the samples are finished or if an error occurs.
As science-based companies strive to automate as much of their research and development as possible, enthusiasm for electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) is once again on the rise. The promise of capturing data about a drug, pesticide, or other chemical at the earliest moment in the product cycle, and then reusing it as widely as possible throughout the company, is an attractive one. So attractive that the idea has survived to make a comeback, after ELNs failed to make their mark when they were first introduced around 10 years ago.