Although research is increasingly conducted digitally and generates large datasets, it is surprising that, while comprehensive data on the use of research notebooks is not available, it is widely agreed that a large majority of university researchers still use good old pen and paper to jot down the primary records of their research.
However, that position is changing.
Alastair Downie, head of IT at the Gurdon Institute and director at The Company of Biologists, has been trying to identify a suitable electronic notebook product for his institution for years. He says:
“There is no doubt that researchers and institutions want to switch, but researchers are paralysed by choice and dazzled by programs that offer specialist, discipline-specific software features, when in fact all they really need is a basic, reliable and secure documentation platform.
“At the same time, research groups are becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary with diverse workflows, interests and preferences – it’s impossible to find a product that will satisfy all of their specialist interests.