Advanced Research Computing


UCL Electronic Research Notebook

A service for recording and sharing notes and data relating to your research


ERN log-in




Key features

  • Free to all UCL staff and students
  • Easy to attach diagrams, photographs, videos, and data visualizations
  • Integrates with Microsoft Office, Teams, and OneDrive, plus a range of specialist apps and research data management tools
  • Research group management for Principal Investigators
  • Create templates and forms for Standard Operating Procedures or other documents
  • Selective sharing of notebooks or specific entries
  • Versioning and time-stamping
  • Publication to UCL’s Research Data Repository
  • Note - This service is unsuitable for 'Special Category' data


Researchers in many disciplines organise their notes and document their research processes in notebooks. Traditionally, these have been paper based and, once completed, have ended up on shelves and drawers in labs and offices before, if kept at all, being archived to deep storage. These notebooks contain a vital record of the research process which in many cases is invaluable for reproducing results.

UCL’s Electronic Research Notebook (ERN), provided by RSpace, addresses many of the limitations of traditional paper lab notebooks. It makes it far easier to add and associate electronic content, overcomes the ‘single copy’ problem of paper, helps formalize processes across teams, and keeps an indelible record of the research process. The ERN service provides a means to edit and manage notes and data relating to your research, and ultimately is intended to serve not only as an alternative to traditional paper lab notebooks, but as a wide-ranging solution for researchers who wish to gather their notes and related files in a single system where they can collaborate and selectively share their work with others in their team.

We settled on RSpace due to its combination of excellent functionality and match with UCL’s user requirements, its interoperability with other software and systems, and its popularity amongst researchers from a range of disciplines who helped us trial the shortlisted products.

Whilst the UCL ERN is already a fully-featured and mature solution, we shall continue to work with RSpace to develop it further – at the moment, the ERN Service is beta whilst we set up service monitoring, documentation, and we are looking to integrate it with other components of UCL’s research data management infrastructure such as the Research Data Storage Service.

RSpace Data Security

The UCL instance of RSpace is provided as a cloud-hosted service accessible to UCL staff and students via the university’s single-sign-on mechanism (which includes multi-factor authentication).

UCL assessed RSpace’s commitment to data security as part of a tender process and deemed it to have sufficient security mechanisms and governance in place to act as a suitable data processor for UCL’s data, including personal data. RSpace is fully 21 CFR 11 compliant, and implements all of the UK National Cyber Security Centre’s Cloud Security Principles apart from Principle 4 (relating to governance framework), which is currently being addressed via the ISO27,001 certification process, with a contractual commitment to have certification in place by July 2023. UCL has requested, reviewed, and accepted the results of a formal penetration test of the RSpace software.

All data stored by RSpace is processed within the UK.

RSpace’s Information Security Policy is available here.

'Special Category’ Data

Please do not upload ‘Special Category’ Data to the ERN.

Special category data includes personal data revealing or concerning certain types of data. If you have inferred or guessed details about someone from a set of data, this data may count as special category data (however, it depends on how certain that inference is, and whether you are deliberately drawing that inference).

The UK GDPR defines special category data as:

  • personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin;
  • personal data revealing political opinions;
  • personal data revealing religious or philosophical beliefs;
  • personal data revealing trade union membership;
  • genetic data;
  • biometric data (where used for identification purposes);
  • data concerning health;
  • data concerning a person’s sex life; and
  • data concerning a person’s sexual orientation.

You can learn more about the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office definition here. Please also see the ERN privacy notice and the Service Level Agreement.

Service Information and Support

Please see our FAQs and further information pages for sources of help, support and training.

If you would like to speak to us about the ERN or suggest further improvements and integrations, please write to us at ern-support@ucl.ac.uk.