[Rdap] Electronic Lab Notebooks

Daureen Nesdill daureen.nesdill at utah.edu
Fri Jul 24 14:33:43 EDT 2015

I responded below
From: Rdap [rdap-bounces at asis.org] on behalf of Fitzgerald, Jennifer [jmfitzgerald at noble.org]
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2015 9:56 AM
To: Research Data, Access and Preservation
Subject: Re: [Rdap] Electronic Lab Notebooks

I’m combining this lengthy response to both Daureen Nesdill and Katherine McNeill to reduce the number of outgoing emails.  I appreciate your feedback.

It’s not so much the space that we’re worried about over time, it’s the crowding of information that can be placed into a single ELN.  When will it be enough?  Also, generating backup copies can become a nightmare over time if a notebook is large.

Space is an issue my researchers bring up. I just tell them of the options. Some of them already have TB of data on servers they have to access.

I do not understand "when will it be enough?" Because my researchers are in different disciplines I'm seeing first hand how differently each works. GLP are totally different. What needs to be retained is different. LabArchives, like any other ELN is based on corporate, FDA, US Patent scenarios, in other word everything must be maintained, provenance/audit trails are mandatory, etc. This is not necessarily bad since it will address the ethics issues.

If you are talking about backups of notebooks archived outside of LabArchives, I hear you. Researchers may have to develop policies on when and what to delete - records management.  The data will be in a repository with the pertinent information so it is not necessary to keep notebooks forever.

I was initially asked to assist in developing some best practices, but that faded into the background as everyone began doing their own thing...for now.  We were fortunate in that a few of our principal investigators showed a willingness in assisting others to get on board.

I'm using somewhat the same method. The pioneering researchers using labarchives can demonstrate to their collaborators and colleagues within their departments. We are also introducing the lab class version at the same time. My campus has a large medical research component so REDCap has already been adopted (security). We also have mLIMS and JAX foe mouse colony management and Quartzy for inventory of lab suppplies, etc.

Since the ELN is not geared for the storage of large datasets (as you know you’re limited with Lab Archives in terms of 250 MB for a single file), we still encourage the use of our network storage for many things.  We don’t necessarily want them starting manuscripts there and we do not encourage that they create a repository of collected research articles for their work in the ELN.  It’s still their notebook.  Instruments are mapped to internal network drives.

During our initial discussions I let them know that Endnote, Zotoro, etc are useful - one of the researchers is going to try linking her Endnote into labarchives. We talk about decisions to make before setting up a notebook.

We initially began the process of reviewing notebooks in 2013.  The research staff on our Data Management Committee (composed mostly of principal investigators and Computing Services staff) was not too keen on the idea of going electronic initially, but you can’t really blame them when paper was the standard for so long.  The major effort was researcher buy-in, because without it, the effort would be a dead one.  In our case, our senior leadership wanted the decision to be one that was either all in or all out.  That type of involvement may be more realistic since we are a smaller institution.  Slowly, the seven pilot groups came around and it was determined in late 2014 to move forward in 2015 with the adoption of the ELN.

I started in 2009-10 with some support from the VP for Research Office. I had to pull back a bit when the market changed. In May I received a small grant from my Library to start this pilot project. I'm talking with university IT and Center for High Performance Computing about steps for a site license since it is not clear which will administer the software. VPR is still supportive and pushing this pilot. I can see LabArchives being a site license in the future, but not the only ELN out there. The chemists are already saying since it does not support ChemDraw, they will not use it. If the campus is provided free access to use LabArchives I'm not expecting hordes of researchers signing up. The cost has been an impediment, but the work of implementing the ELN is a much larger impediment. Next summer I'm planning on knocking on the doors of new faculty and get them when they are just setting up research projects.

In our case, we’re trying to put an administrative spin on a product (Lab Archives) that doesn’t really have an administrative module for account management.  I am the appointed person that assists someone in setting up their account using their employee email to ensure that the appropriate permissions are applied to the said notebook.  I make sure the principal investigator has ownership, an ELN Admin (aka me) has administrator access, and that the researcher has the appropriate level of access.  We know this is not foolproof with the product we are using, since users still have the ability to create their own notebooks.  I am interested in seeing if anyone else has a similar approach.

Interesting that you are the administrator. Each of my research groups have a PI and/or an administrator of their own. Why are you the administrator and what are your duties? I do not see my position evolving into administrating for all the thousands of notebooks and accounts we can potentially have on this campus

I typically name a notebook “Researcher Last Name Researcher First Name – Principal Investigator Last Name – Year Notebook Created.”  (A larger university may need more identifying information.  We have a little more than 20 labs using the ELN.)  This is really more for the principal investigator and myself and in my opinion, it’s better than naming a notebook by project when I have more than 160 of them to keep up with in my queue.  Also, it’s a good naming convention for historical matters.  The folders within the ELN are typically organized chronologically by month with pages of entries in each or by project names.  In some cases, research assistants have folders with the name of a postdoctoral fellow they provide support to and only that postdoc has access to that folder in the research assistant’s notebook.  When I assist someone in setting their ELN up, I also show them an actual researcher’s notebook.  One particular principal investigator had given me permission in order to do this with her staff’s notebooks.

We name the account for the PI, then it is up to the research group to decide how the notebooks will be set up. I have notebooks set up by person, instrument (a core, not really research), project and grant. Under that folders are created and they will be learning "metadata" and using tags to describe entries. For the researchers organizing notebooks by project also wanted them organized by grant. Projects can involve multiple grants and grants can fund multiple projects. Tagging is being used to follow the grants.

When researchers leave employment, our exit procedures require that anyone with a notebook sets an appointment up with me, so I can review the account and determine what they do/do not have access to.   They can take a copy of the notebook with them and I will ensure I have appropriate access to generate a backup copy for our historical records that will reside on our internal servers (for the PI and legal matters).   At this point, the PI and I still have access to the departing employees’ notebooks via our Lab Archives accounts…I’m not sure if this is a practice that will be feasible over time.

We talk about when people leave, but not in any detail yet. I would suggest you have a conversation with your records management folks and have them assist you in developing policies on when you can delete records. I'm on a state university campus and have state and federal record keeping rules. I'm not sure of the regulations you have to follow at a foundation.

We’re trying to encourage only one notebook per person if at all possible.  Ideally, they will go through me if a new one is needed.  At least one group is using one notebook, but it is a service group unrelated to research, so their usage may not the greatest example from a research lab’s standpoint.  I also stress that I can assist in adding researchers to one another’s notebooks for collaborative purposes upon approval from the PI or appointed lab manager/member.

Either way, I’ve heard more positive than negative about the ELN.

I've just started obtaining feedback from researchers. A few issues came up  -  not intuitive, Chrome not supporting JAVA, not having a laptop, work interfering with implementation.

I’m very curious to learn more about the progress goes at your institutions.

My Library did provide me with a small grant, but that is the end of the support. I'm one of those data librarians being crushed between traditional librarian duties and my not-so-new duties. I'm still attempting to work out how much time I can devote to this.


Jennifer Fitzgerald
Data Curator, Library
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
2510 Sam Noble Parkway
Ardmore, OK 73401
Telephone 580.224.6268 | Fax 580.224.6265

From: Rdap [mailto:rdap-bounces at asis.org] On Behalf Of Katherine McNeill
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 11:52 AM
To: Research Data, Access and Preservation
Subject: Re: [Rdap] Electronic Lab Notebooks

We are very interested in this as well.  Here we (the Libraries) are just now embarking on a partnership with our IT department who have decided to try out an institutional license and accompanying support model.  One issue goal that has come up is to compile recommendations on good practice for using the software and we were planning on reaching out to other universities.

All that is to say that we’re not in a position at the moment to give any advice but will be keen on exchanging such information going forward.

Katherine McNeill
Katherine McNeill<http://cp.mcafee.com/d/k-Kr3x0qdEIczD1RT7SjtPoUQszzhOYeupdzzhOed7bPOr9IsqehNEVu7fc6NNEV76zAQszDbCN5lSkNgzYtfg1kaA3_U02rxkwv_00joVSOa91Z_HYyOCVtN7HTbFILIsCUC-YYNR4kRHFGTuhVkffGhBrwqrhdICQuKAT2zp2BEO8urhdw0PV42bsAfFOIFZW3ubhGX8_WoHq7Off9CUEqIn8lrxrW0HqiFM04SDssqekjobZ8Qg6BI5EqIqnjh0d7_qsqMBoQg1ni1Ew1Bp-gHkHgSO-rjTvd3TzbuuK>
Program Head, Data Management Services
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
mcneillh at mit.edu<mailto:mcneillh at mit.edu> | 617-253-0787
From: Rdap [mailto:rdap-bounces at asis.org] On Behalf Of Daureen Nesdill
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 12:02 PM
To: Research Data, Access and Preservation
Subject: Re: [Rdap] Electronic Lab Notebooks

I have about 7 labs using (setting up to use) LabArchives. The purpose of this little experiment is to determine any issues that need to be addressed before a site license is considered – and your question has already come up. By late spring 2016, I expect to have at least a draft version of best practices based on the issues that have come up.

Don’t forget notebooks created within LabArchives can be organized by projects, grants, people, instruments, etc.

One of my research groups was concerned about all the notebooks taking up too much server space. We have discussed that at the end of a research project (how this group is being organized), each notebook can be downloaded and archived elsewhere (we now have BOX). This includes all the deletions that are never deleted. We also discussed that some of the past research projects will need to be referred to  - research builds on research – and they would have to take that into account. I’ve mentioned to LabArchives that researchers should be able to totally delete deletions at the end of the project and maintain the notebook within the system. This will open up server space. Intuition tells me this would not be an easy fix.

Please, let us know what you end up doing

Daureen Nesdill, MS, MLIS
Research Data Management Librarian
The Faculty Center @ the J. W. Marriott Library
University of Utah
daureen.nesdill at utah.edu<mailto:daureen.nesdill at utah.edu>
ORCID http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0126-5038<http://cp.mcafee.com/d/avndzhJ5xAsUeKU-OrKr76zAsqenxPP9IsqehNEVuujpdzzhOed7bMVVwSed78UQsCzAsVsS8GKOCa4vzFW0axkwv_00jsaA3_U02r7eShh8fLZvAmkTbK8ZuVtdBZzAT4TTDCeEyCJtdmXOfaxVZicHs3jqpJASzRQCUkr8kJ6h3Pq9I07mdF8s01OZXTbTLtALt5dMK_tBUT53lyV2Hsbvg5rile00CQXzzhOyr1vF6y0QJwJ3lziWq81E_Xjzm4H6y0aWgd40cHfO5qBq6SnPvXPU>

From: Rdap [mailto:rdap-bounces at asis.org] On Behalf Of Fitzgerald, Jennifer
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 9:01 AM
To: rdap at mail.asis.org<mailto:rdap at mail.asis.org>
Subject: [Rdap] Electronic Lab Notebooks

Hello RDAP Members:

I know some of you, but certainly not all of you, are at institutions that have adopted an electronic laboratory notebook.  This year has been a transitional year for the Lab Archives ELN at the Noble Foundation.  At this point, less than 200 total employees will be using the ELN.  (Our total employee body hovers right below 400.)

To anyone who can assist, I am curious as to what the guidelines are at your institutions regarding when it is time to create a new notebook.  We currently have a committee in place that discusses data management matters and they would be interested to know what others are doing, as well.  Most of the users have their own notebooks that their respective principal investigator maintains ownership of.   Obviously, more can be included with the ELN versus a traditional paper notebook.  It seems that over time, even an ELN would get overloaded with information.  Since our use is still somewhat in its infancy, I’m curious as to what others are doing.

Thank you.

Jennifer Fitzgerald
Data Curator, Library
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
2510 Sam Noble Parkway
Ardmore, OK 73401
Telephone 580.224.6268 | Fax 580.224.6265

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.kunverj.com/pipermail/rdap/attachments/20150724/e639b2d8/attachment.html>

More information about the Rdap mailing list