This post is by Open Research Champion Cristiana Bercea
As one of the leads for Open Research for the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, I would like to invite colleagues to participate in a pilot study on the use of electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) between the end of June and the end of September. You do not have to be in Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy to take part: for example, members of the School of Biological Sciences may also be interested in the pilot.
In short, the plan is to provide you with a list of free software packages that we propose might be suitable, and ask you to choose one that you are willing to try. This would be especially useful to involve new PhDs in. We will organise an induction workshop where I will briefly show you around the packages and discuss any questions. If you are interested, please complete this Doodle poll to indicate your availability.
Anyone is welcome to join, or alternatively you can designate a rep for your lab, who will also liaise with me regarding feedback.
There are many advantages to switching to ELNs, of which a few are:
- backup means information cannot be lost
- keywords being searchable means it’s easy to find methods and data from a while ago, or from people who leave the lab
- time and date stamps
- data integration means it would be easier to prepare publications.
During the pilot, I will ask the participants to take a look at this feedback form and fill in your assessments. This checklist was adapted from similar pilots held at other universities, so we feel it’s comprehensive, and I would like to organise a feedback presentation (Doodle poll to come in July) to discuss the outcomes with you. However, if you have any other comments or suggestions, please let us know. I set up the form such that each group testing a package can copy and paste a Sheet, rename it with the name of the rep, the name of your group, and package, and fill it in. There is an example with my name, our lab, and OneNote.
As Open Research Champion representative on the Committee on Open Research and Research Integrity (CORRI), at the end of the pilot I will write a report of our experience and discuss it with CORRI. If there is interest, we can also discuss obtaining university subscriptions, which would allow access to further software features.
If you are interested in taking part in this pilot study please take a look at the list of proposed software. If you have other packages you are already using or have used in the past, that would be great as well.
Here are some more information resources:
- discussion of advantages and possible disadvantages of ELNs
- introduction to ELNs: what ELNs are, how they work, what the features and functionality are, options for storage and security, and advice about how to pick one
- table summary of the features of some packages
- University of Cambridge ELN use case studies
If you have any questions or would like to discuss taking part, please contact me.