“ELNs aren’t new. What makes CERF different is the ability to add any content from anywhere – Mac, PC, and – especially – iPad.One of the most important things a scientist does is document their work. Writing down how we do things is every bit as important as what we discover – or even why we did it in the first place. But actually doing this can be an interruption in our flow of actually doing science, and we often find ourselves using shorthand to describe the things we did (“I used the standard protocol”), or jotting notes down on whatever scrap of paper happens to be handy at the moment (I always used Kim-Wipes®). And even once everything gets transcribed into our official notebook, we’re faced with the problem of finding it again when we need it. How many times have we told ourselves, “I know the answer is in one of those notebooks on that shelf”, only to realize that it would be faster to repeat the experiment than to spend an afternoon searching through them?
CERF is an electronic lab notebook (ELN) – software that runs on on your Mac, PC, or iPad (more on that later) that lets you document your work easily and quickly – and stores it on a central server (which may live in the cloud, or may live down the hall from your office). CERF lets you add any type of file or content to your notebook page, organize it, share it, and then easily find it again later. You can type (or handwrite) entries, add files, voice notes, drawings – anything at all.
ELNs aren’t new. What makes CERF different is the ability to add any content from anywhere – Mac, PC, and – especially – iPad. CERF has a native iPad app that lets you work on the go. Take pictures. Record your voice. Write your ideas down in your own handwriting (which gets converted automatically to text, even if your handwriting is as illegible as mine). This is the Killer App that we scientists have been waiting for! With CERF for iPad, you aren’t tethered to your desk or your laptop.
Now I can finally throw away all of those old Kim-Wipes® and document my work the right way.