Open Lab Notebooks

Lab notebooks are important elements of lab-based research processes. They are used to document records such as hypotheses, analyses and experiment interpretations. Currently, we see an exciting transition away from old-school paper lab notebooks towards digitally available Open Lab Notebooks. The general concept of Open Lab Notebooks relies on the following principles:

  • Open Lab Notebooks should be shared online in real time without limits or boundaries regarding access and use of the data
  • Raw data used in the research to reach findings or conclusions is available online and accessible to anyone
  • All experimental data should be shared, including cases of non-significant results, failed attempts or null findings
  • Feedback and other contributions to the research effort can be integrated easily with the understanding that everything is donated to the public domain

Why use Open Lab Notebooks?

There are several apparent benefits of using Open Lab Notebooks. For example, Open Lab Notebooks require regular and consistent updates, which improves transparency of your research process. Also, actively publishing failed attempts or null findings provides the scientific community with an understanding of what works and what not, which can be used to improve research methods. There are different platforms that allow you to share Open Lab Notebooks, such as and Open WetWare. These platforms provide general information on how to organize your notes, but also facilitate an online environment where you can publicly share your lab notebook. If you wish to learn more about Open Lab Notebooks, you can visit the following websites:

Open Lab Notebook Tools and Software

Jupyter Notebook


Open WetWare

Open Neuroscience

Publications on Open Lab Notebooks

Kanza, S., Willoughby, C., Gibbins, N. et al. Electronic lab notebooks: can they replace paper?. J Cheminform 9, 31 (2017).

Schapira, M., Harding, R. J., & Open Lab Notebook Consortium. (2019). Open laboratory notebooks: good for science, good for society, good for scientists. F1000Research, 8.