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Digitising science – Going from Paper to Electronic Lab Notebooks

Paper laboratory notebooks are becoming the bottleneck in laboratory information management, as they have problems keeping up with growing amount of data produced, demand for its traceability and reuse.

Marie_Curie

Marie S. Curie

Paper laboratory notebooks are still being predominately used by researchers, lab technicians, diagnosticians and other lab personnel to document their laboratory work. The main purpose of laboratory notebooks is to maintain complete and continuous records. Especially for industry and industrial application, a good documentation of the work-process is necessary in terms of traceability and IP protection. Loss of information is a major issue of laboratory records that are not being digitised and stored in a systematic way. 17% of all research data is lost annually because of it (1) It poses a great reusability and repeatability problem, enormous additional cost and extreme limitation for knowledge sharing and knowledge base expansion within one organisation and throughout the community. The problem of data loss and knowledge transfer is especially notable if a researcher leaves the laboratory.

New high-throughput methods in life sciences generate a large amount of data (often called big data) that cannot be simply printed out and glued in a notebook like famous Marie Curie did 100 years ago. Sophisticated tools are required for the analysis and systematic data storage together with a powerful search to make it traceable. The challenge at hand cannot be addressed effectively with existent predominant paper based work-process management and documentation approach anymore. Paper laboratory notebooks are becoming the bottleneck in laboratory information management, as they have problems keeping up with growing amount of data produced, demand for its traceability and reuse.

Technological breakthrough is needed where ELN could learn and self-adjust to the customer for ready-made, of the shelf Life science ELN to reach full market potential. (M.H. Elliot)

Therefore, scientists are looking for electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), where they would be able to systematically store their data. One of the platforms that is being developed is also self-learning adaptable CLOUDSCI ELN platform for scientific laboratories. CLOUDSCI ELN will be a cloud based software as a service and as full-functionality private cloud or locally based implementation. It’s integrated intelligence, a powerful adaptability feature that will learn and optimize workflows based on user’s everyday work will decrease work loads of laboratory personnel. Therefore, a significant increase of productivity is expected as a result of adoption CLOUDSCI ELN in a life science laboratory, increasing laboratory throughput by 40-60%

ELN software that targets Life Sciences market are usually very complex and expensive, which does not convince users to change their habits of using paper laboratory notebooks. Michael H. Elliot, key opinion leader and author on ELNs, reckoned a technological breakthrough is needed where ELN could learn and self-adjust to the customer for ready-made, of the shelf Life science ELN to reach full market potential. And this exact breakthrough is what CLOUDSCI ELN project is aiming to achieve.

 

By Jana Erjavec, PhD, BioSistemika LLC

(1) Vines, T. H. et al. Curr. Biol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.014 (2013)

 





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