The Downsides of Electronic Lab Notebooks

While many in the scientific community are pushing for the transition from paper lab notebooks to electronic devices, there are still many reasons why paper notebooks are a better option for researchers. Before you invest in electronic notebooks for your research, consider the following downsides of going digital.


While electronic notebooks are small, they still need a power source and have limited battery life. Since not all research is done in a lab, having an electronic device could put some researchers at a disadvantage. This is particularly true for research that requires observation in the fields of animal and plant sciences. A paper notebook is a far more reasonable tool in these situations.


When used in a court of law to defend a patent, paper is still more reliable than digital data. Digital systems can be compromised, hacked, and tampered with, allowing results and dates to be changed without anyone knowing that the data has been altered. These types of changes are much more difficult to attempt with paper notebooks, making them a better choice for patent litigation.

Resistant to Spills

Electronic notebooks can be damaged by spills in the lab. Paper notebooks are designed to be spill-resistant, thereby retaining recorded data that would otherwise be lost in a digital notebook. For researchers who work in labs with chemicals, digital notebooks can be susceptible to damage throughout the course of the research process.

While many industries are quickly going digital, the field of scientific research is one that still benefits from traditional research recording methods. Lab notebooks are best when they are paper, as they are able to efficiently hold data without compromise.