Empowering your Research using Elements: Review by Chemjobber

“Republished without modification and  with the permission of Chemjobber” bit.ly/1xIptwZ

Electronic lab notebooks have already penetrated most larger scientific organizations, industrial or academic. Smaller companies or universities may not have the institutional support to offer a standard electronic notebook format.

Towards that end, PerkinElmer Informatics has come up with Elements, a simple cloud-based electronic notebook/project space that can be used to write up any scientific experiment in a collaborative, real-time format. Your coworkers can see what you're up to and you can see what your collaborators are doing as well.

While Elements is aimed at all scientists, I've approached this from the perspective of a bench chemist. PerkinElmer being the owners of ChemDraw, Elements contains a HTML5 version of the program. Click a few buttons, and you can use the in-notebook format to start drawing up your reaction. As you're drawing your experiment in the page, Elements automatically populates the entries in the stoichiometry table. Adjusting reagent equivalents is simple; the program will adjust the masses accordingly.

The "quick add" line is helpful, assuming the database has your reagent. Phenylalanine, THF, BF3-etherate -- not a problem. Sodium borohydride and borane-dimethylsulfide? Not so much. Even then, you can use the ChemDraw to draw your reagents in the window and the stoichiometry table will update itself.

There's lots of different files that you can add to your virtual notebook page. You can include PDFs (NMRs and HPLC traces, anyone?). There is, of course, a section for you to write out your results and conclusions as well. I've tried out Elements on my work computer, my home laptop as well as my not-so-modern iPad and they all work fine. (I don't know if anyone is actually using iPads in the lab yet). 

I would recommend Elements to any small organization that is looking to transition to electronic notebooks and is exploring different options; it's familiar and simple, which is a nice combination. Try a Free Trial here!