Over the last year we’ve talked to many of our users about their successes, struggles, papers, research, labs and more. This week we’re taking a trip back into the archives to pull out some of our favorite moments and conversations we had with our professional research user group over the last year.
This archival journey took us all over the map, so buckle up!
What: Repetitive experiments and how to make them less painful
Who: Stephanie Kong, researcher at The Victor Chang Institute
Where: Sydney, Australia
Getting handwriting cramps from copying your methods over and over for each subject you work with? Talk to Stephanie who used to have to do that all the time. She often works with rat subjects to learn more about how certain medications can reduce risk for arterial damage during stent placements. In a week she’ll work with any number of rat subjects. By simply duplicating pages in LabArchives she saves herself the hassle of rewriting methods each time. For about a year Stephanie worked with rat subjects on a weekly basis and kept “all of the monitoring, surgery, notes, animal numbers, and notes in LabArchives so that the lab head, technician, and everyone involved with the model could access all the data whenever needed.” She saved herself time and saved her team time by making this important data readily accessible to everyone who needed it.
What: getting over the fear of using technology at the bench
Who: Fabio Agnelli, biochemist at USD
Where: San Diego, California USA
Fabio has found that digital, cloud-based record keeping helps generate professional, cohesive and permanent records of lab work without too much hassle. From his point of view, reports are of infinitely higher quality when done this way. But that doesn’t mean that Fabio, like most scientists, didn’t have misgivings about transitioning away from paper.
Contamination fears were of course on his mind. To combat this, Fabio’s lab has used iPads with Otterbox Defender cases, and this set up has turned out to be essentially rock solid. After three years of use, the iPads are still in very good condition. And if iPads aren’t readily available to you, it only takes a few minutes to snap a picture of paper notes and add them to your LabArchives notebook with our mobile app.
Fabio’s advice to anyone struggling with “THE FEAR” is to just try it. The learning curve is not as steep as it looks, he says, and the large, ever-growing community of people using technology at the bench who are willing to collaborate, interact, and help only support the process. He believes the advantages are worth the investment of resources and time – for everyone involved.
What: setting up an entire lab to work digitally ACTUALLy isn’t hard to do
Who: Sebastian Scheer, geneticist at Monash University
Where: Melbourne, Australia
LabArchives is a central point of reference for the entire Zaph Lab at Monash University. Everyone uses it to document their work and the lab has protocols that are followed within their digital notebooks. Everything stays organized. And while this might sound like an organizational utopia, it’s really not hard to achieve this set up.
The Zaph Lab has it down pat. And all eight researchers have access to the right information at the right time via LabArchives. An accessible folder holds the lab’s protocols, standards operating procedures (SOPs), experimental data, recipes and a lab inventory.
As soon as an experiment is completed the researchers know to add a new page to the experimental data folder, give it a specific experimental number and label test tubes used with that number. With this system, the lab can refer back to LabArchives, see how an experiment turned out and quickly locate which test tubes were used. Simple, easy and saves everyone from headaches. The Zaph Lab also works with PRISM to visualize their data. Sebastian “saves files in PRISM, transfers them directly to LabArchives and then moves the files from the LabArchives inbox to the experiment.” So convenient.
And how’d they get to this stage? A bit of practice and support from us. LabArchives offers custom on site trainings and webinars. We help you set up your lab and get everyone on the same digital page. We’re here to assist with data migration, training and workflow development at the beginning and then to support you in your work as you grow.
what: protecting your work against misconduct allegations doesn’t have to be stressful
Who: May Lin Yap, researcher at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
Where: Melbourne, Australia
As May Lin notes, “Record keeping is a crucial aspect of publishing a paper. The Australian research guidelines require raw data to be kept for at least five years following publication, and during this time the journal has the right to ask for access to these data.” Imagine trying to track down endless paper notebooks, raw data printed on paper and paper analyses five years after publishing. Sounds like a total nightmare.
The lab’s important findings have to remain rooted in data long after publication and not just for documentation purposes but also for the longevity and continuation of the research itself.
The lab keeps all their data in LabArchives so that as lab members come and go no data gets lost and the research progression remains visible and secure. With any research, but especially with research of this gravity, loosing data is simply not an option. Being able to understand the data’s life cycle makes researchers more effective and successful leading to greater understanding, discovery and change. And because the lab has standard documentation processes in LabArchives, they don’t have to think twice about keeping their data secure over time. With LabArchives no data gets lost, nothing ever gets truly deleted and versioning allows researchers to see who did what even years after the research has been done. Once your lab is setup in the platform you don’t have to think twice about preserving documentation, it will happen automatically.
Thanks to everyone who has shared their research experiences with us this year! Have a story you want to share? Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org