About the UW-Madison ELN Service

The software that UW-Madison has chosen for our campus-wide ELN service is the professional edition of LabArchives. Our site license to use the software is at no cost to all faculty, researchers, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students in performing their research activities. See the topic below for more information the LabArchives ELN service at UW-Madison.

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Features of LabArchives at UW-Madison

The UW-Madison site licensed version of LabArchives offers numerous advantages over not only traditional paper notebooks, but also other software packages and services that you may be using to keep track of research. Some of the benefits are listed below:

  • Supported UW-Madison service with security and legal protections in place
  • Unlimited data storage (4GB max per individual file)
  • Securely stores your notebooks, including attached data, in redundant geographic locations within the USA
  • Enables collaboration within research groups and with external collaborators
  • Supports multiple user roles and customized permissions for viewing and editing folders, notebooks, and notebook entries
  • Allows access over the Internet on a variety of devices
  • Supports use of templates, protocols, and processes by labs
  • Integrates with Microsoft Office, Google Drive, ChemDoodle, PubMed, and GraphPad Prism
  • Stores many file types, including images, video, spreadsheets, etc.
  • Allows signing, file versioning, and activity tracking
  • Assists in compliance with the UW-Madison Policy on Data Stewardship, Access, and Retention

For a more detailed information on the specific features of LabArchives, see their user documentation.

Archiving and Backing Up Your Notebook

Having a backup and archival plan for all your digital work, including your lab notebooks on the ELN platform, is always recommended. While the LabArchives service has a record of high availability, there are some scenarios in which you could lose access to your notebooks temporarily. And because most researchers need to retain their notebooks for a number of years, having a process for archiving notebooks that are completed is important. LabArchives allows users to create two types of backup files:

  • On a regular basis, use the utility, Create an Offline Notebook, to export your entire notebook as a package consisting of HTML files and the most recent version of attached files. (Note, if you attached multiple versions of a file to an attachment entry, only the most recent one will be included in the export package.) The offline notebook files do not include version histories of pages/entries or comments. Store this export package in a secure location.
  • If you will not need to include attached data files in your archive (because, for example, you are retaining copies of these elsewhere), you may want to use the Export to PDF utility for notebooks or Print/PDF for individual notebook folders, pages, or entries. PDF copies include rich and simple text entries, thumbnails of images and widget content, annotations added to images, user name, and time/date stamps. PDFs do not include attached files, version histories of the page or entries, or comments. You can either store the digital PDF files in a secure location, print them out and store paper copies, or do both.


Data Security

UW-Madison’s contracting process with LabArchives included an extensive review of data security controls by UW-Madison IT Security and UW-Madison Legal Services. Campus’s agreement with LabArchives includes measures that safeguard the intellectual property and security of UW research data.

LabArchives utilizes Amazon Web Services for its application, database, storage, and backup servers.  Both primary and secondary Amazon data centers used to deliver the service are located in the US. See Amazon Web Services Compliance page.

Key security controls in the UW-Madison LabArchives service include:

  • Encryption of data in transit and at rest
  • Firewalls and other security devices on all servers
  • Monitoring of all network traffic for suspicious activity
  • Regular testing, upgrades, and patching for vulnerabilities
  • Regular third party security audits

To ensure a secure network connection between your computer and your LabArchives account when you are off-campus, you should set up a connection through WiscVPN.

Sensitive Data in LabArchives

A large majority of research performed on campus generates data, procedures, observations, and other notes that are appropriate to be stored in the UW-Madison instance of LabArchives, where precautions to maximize redundancy, security, and availability have been taken.

Some types of data may not be appropriate for the ELN or may require guidance from compliance and/or security stakeholders on campus.

  • Restricted Data. Restricted data (according to the campus definition) can only be stored in the UW-Madison instance of LabArchives if the Primary Investigator follows certain procedures. Please consult with the ELN Service Team to determine if the ELN is appropriate for use with your data. This includes Patient Health Information falling under HIPAA guidelines.
  • Human subjects data gathered under the guidance and approval of a campus Institutional Review Board (IRB). Consult your IRB for guidance on use of the ELN with this type of data.
  • Other data subject to government regulations such as FISMA or data from research on select agents, etc. Consult with your department’s data security officer.

Remember that your responsibility of protecting the data remains the same as it would if you were accessing UW data on your personal machine (Responsible Use Policy).