Converting non-electronic information into an electronic form

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​​​​​​​​​A. Background & Definitions

Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format. It is the primary way of storing non-electronic information in a form suitable for transmission and computer processing, whether scanned from two-dimensional analog originals or captured using an image sensor-equipped device such as a digital camera.

B. Guidance & Expectations

  • Save electronic files in a universal file format, such as pdf, to maximize usability (i.e. readability).
  • Whatever storage medium is chosen, it is important to make sure that the medium is reliable and that files can still be read at a later date (see 3.1.2 Procedures for how and when to record data).
  • As with hard copy paper data, it is important that electronic data are time/date stamped when the data are created/generated.
  • Indexing: A record of data locations must be maintained. This can be accomplished by adding dates or other index fields where required so they can be searched for and accessed easily. This indexing process is usually not required when using an electronic lab notebook system as the storage medium since each record should have a unique study ID (see 2.1.2 Unique study ID).
  • If the electronic version of the data/information is stored and archived (instead of the non-electronic version), this is acceptable only if the electronic copy meets all criteria of raw data (see 2.3.1 Generation, recording, handling and archiving of raw data). Most importantly, it is important to define and control the interval between data generation and creation of the electronic record)
  • For each digitization procedure, it should be checked that the electronic version is complete and of sufficient quality (e.g. when scanning an image/film/photography)


  • Scientists should be aware that some electronic documents e.g. PDFs can be edited. Critical information (e.g. for IP reasons) must be handled with particular care as well as discussed and agreed with collaboration partner(s) (if applicable) - see 2.2.2 Use of template for (manual) data recording.

C. Resources


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