What is a Digital Lab Notebook (DLN)?

Excerpt from a Leonardo da Vinci notebook

A Digital Lab Notebook (DLN) serves the same function as a written scientist’s lab notebook before the digital age. A DLN associated with a digital representation provides transparency, enabling people to assess its reliability for their own research purposes. CHI’s DLN methodologies and tools are designed to collect all of the information necessary for a scientific lab notebook. More…

DLN Tool Suite

Download the Digital Lab Notebook Tools

CHI has released version 1 Beta versions of the first two tools in the Digital Lab Notebook software suite to simplify the collection and management of scientifically reliable metadata. Learn more and download the tools.

Related Project: The Democratization of Scientific Imaging through Metadata Management and Archival Submission Support

This CHI project is funded by a Preservation and Access Research and Development grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, beginning January 2018. The project supports the development and enhancement of internationalized open source software tools for the collection, management, archiving, and sharing of cultural heritage imaging data and associated metadata. More…

White Paper: “Data Sustainability and Advanced Metadata Management for Scientific Imaging”

Cover of the Data Sustainability white paper

At the conclusion of an NEH Start-up grant awarded to CHI in 2014, the team produced a white paper describing the outcome of the project: a user-friendly software toolkit that greatly simplifies methods of building a Digital Lab Notebook (DLN), an essential component of digital scientific imaging. Read the paper.

Related Publications

See these CHI publications for more information pertaining to the digital lab notebook.

“A Context Metadata Collection and Management Tool for Computational Photography Projects”

Conceptual illustration of the Digital Lab Notebook where user input information about imaging projects produces Linked Open Data

Conceptual illustration of the Digital Lab Notebook where user input information about imaging projects produces Linked Open Data.

About This Publication

Authors Carla Schroer, Mark Mudge, Erich Leisch, Martin Doerr
Published in Proceedings of the Archiving 2017 Conference, published by The Society for Imaging Science and Technology
Publication Date June 2017
PDF file Download the paper (1.5 MB). You can also purchase the entire published proceedings of the conference.


This paper presents the first module of an advanced set of metadata and knowledge management tools to record a Digital Lab Notebook (DLN), the equivalent of the traditional scientist’s lab notebook. The DLN:Capture Context (DLN:CC) tool describes the means and context of photographic data capture. The tool is designed for broad use across computational photography technologies. The DLN:CC has already been implemented for Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and implementation for photogrammetry is underway. The collection and organization of contextual metadata is highly automated, facilitating use during the time the image data is captured and processed, rather than afterward. This project adds ISO-standard compliant metadata, which establishes the provenance of the imaging subject’s digital surrogate. The captured photographic sequences and the DLN metadata contain all the information needed to generate and/or regenerate advanced, image-based 2D and 3D digital surrogates, such as Reflectance Transformation Imaging or photogrammetry’s 3D models with texture. The DLN also provides each digital surrogate a scientific account of their collection and generation.