Tag Archives: science apps

6 ways to integrate your science with smart apps: Episode 1, the Electronic Lab Notebook

lab notebookYou know how it goes. It’s late. You’ve finally finish your experiment, and the last thing you want to do is add an entry to your notebook. You’ll make that entry, tomorrow.

Yeah, sure. Chances are you won’t even remember to make the entry, let alone all those little details that you wish you knew when looking at that particularly strange, bad, or awesome sample you process a week later. Or perhaps you did write down the details—will you be able to find this relevant information when designing a similar experiment next week, preparing for group meeting next month, or when you sit down to write your thesis 3 years later?

Keeping good records is not just about writing down detailed notes. It’s about being able to easily access relevant information at a later date, whether you at your bench or at a meeting halfway across the world. It’s about not losing years of work if you lose your notebook. It’s about not having to leaf through hundreds of sheets of paper to find that one tidbit you faintly remember writing down sometime last May … or was it last year? It is for these reasons—instant searches, remote access, and continuous backups—that I keep an electronic notebook. I have searched the internet far and wide trying to find just the right electronic notebook. And while I still haven’t found that perfect lab notebook application (developers contact me, I have tons of great ideas!), I have found some perfectly acceptable options. Here is what I have found.

Top 10 (Free) Apps for Scientists

Like so many other scientists out there, I feel inherent guilty when I am not working. Even that minute waiting for the bus or in line for lunch. I should be reading papers and thinking about science for those precious moments I’m not physically in lab. When I need my science fix, my iPhone keeps me company. These are the 10 best science-centric apps I have found. They keep me up to date on what papers are coming out, where the public discourse is going, and tickle my general interest in science.

1. Twitter. As app that most of you probably have already, Twitter is a tremendous resource for science. Follow the prolific science tweeters; they will tweet not only their own science and publications, but also general science news and links to cool article that are either scientific themselves or about science. Top twitter recommendations to follow (besides all the relevant journals in your field): @fiainros, @DrRubidium, @BoraZ, @mbeisen, @GertyZ, @ElizabethIorns, @biochembelle, @rwluddite, @DrJenGunter, @chemjobber.

2. ACS Mobile. The ACS Mobile app automatically pulls up ACS ASAPs. You can set it to whichever ACS journals you you prefer. I personally keep Journal of the  American Chemical Soiety and Inorganic Chemistry on my phone, but the app supports any combination of the dozens of journals they publish. yYou can add papers to “My ASAPs” and reference them at will, which can be very helpful if you want to browse a couple papers of the speaker for aseminar you are about to attend. Though C&EN has its own free app, Chemical & Engineering News also has a tab in the ACS Mobile app; it’s really not necessary to have both. ACS Mobile also has a great search function, just like their website, so any portion of a citation (e.g. a partial citation from the bottom of a slide) can lead you to the full article. ACS also offers ACS MOTW, an app presenting their “molecule of the week,” along with an index of previous MOTWs.