electronic lab notebook lab success v01

5 Things holding your lab back from success

5 things labs can stop worrying about – software is here to help!

Advice from sciNote and Quartzy.

What is a successful lab? Some may argue that a well-funded lab is a successful one. Others may say that frequent publications define success. Happy students, researchers, and employees. Cutting edge research. Patents. World Impact.

No matter how you define true success, sciNote Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN)  and Quartzy have teamed up to help you address 5 major aspects that might be holding you back and describe how software can help you out.

Let’s dive in:

 

1. LAB-WIDE COMMUNICATION

 All scientists know that the best research is not done alone. It takes teamwork. Which is why every well managed lab has excellent lab-wide communication.

There are many things a lab can do to ensure that communication channels are open, without encumbering our email inboxes or calendar schedules. The most successful labs use software tools to help them keep these channels open.

With Quartzy, your lab can share a shopping list and inventory. This keeps everything transparent regarding the supplies the whole lab is using – cutting down on ordering the wrong item, duplicates, and not having the lab supply you need when you need it. With special features like commenting, order tracking, inventory auto-updates, and quotes built in; your lab ends up knowing more while doing less too.

In sciNote ELN, research data is systematically organized by projects, experiments and tasks on which team members collaborate – you can notify each other about new results, send comments and feedback. Each person has a determined role which comes with a set of permissions, therefore it is great for collaboration with students or external partners.

 This keeps the lab aware of who is doing what and when – solving an area of miscommunication that can result in a huge time-loss.

 

2. DATA TRANSPARENCY AND REPORTING

 Working in a way that keeps data transparent and experiments reproducible is key for modern labs.

Having to search an old paper notebook for protocols, notes and pasted in pictures is not efficient in today’s digital age.

Planning a budget by going through last year’s emails for receipts and invoices is not good either – how would you check the progress on your grant?

By keeping all your data organized in one place, traceability is greatly improved and risks related to loosing lab data in the years to come are reduced. This is directly connected with the integrity of your published research and the reproducibility of your experiments.

Scientific journals have started to require more rigorous documentation so keeping track of your research data and reducing potential errors is crucial. Besides enabling you to save valuable research data systematically, sciNote enables you to generate customized reports on your work in a few seconds. You can easily pull reports with files, notes, protocols and pictures to check your status on a project!

Recently, Manuscript Writer came into action as well. This sciNote add-on can create a draft of your scientific manuscript based on your work.

Since Quartzy stores secure data when you plan, organize, and make orders – all you need to do is decide what questions you want answered. With filters for vendors, grants, POs, inventory types you can customize and pull a report any time you want or receive a generated one automatically every month.

 

3. PROJECT PLANNING

 Knowing where you are in your project or research can be hard to assess. Sometimes the only way to know, is to lay everything out and do a status check on each step. Imagine doing this for each project?

sciNote ELN solves these issues in four easy steps:

  1. Create a project
  2. Create experiment(s) within that project
  3. Add tasks to each experiment, arrange them in workflows
  4. Define your protocols (step by step) and add your files, pictures, notes, etc.

Sample lists, protocols, results and reports can be linked to each task and enable you to know the entire history of e.g. each sample within an experiment. This allows you to have a detailed overview on the progress of each project, find the data you need instantly and plan the future steps.

 

4. TIME MANAGEMENT

Time is the most precious resource in the lab, that’s why saving time is paramount to be successful at anything you want to accomplish. According to a US National Science Board (NSB) report, US scientists are spending 42% of their time on bureaucratic tasks.

The easiest way to save time is to make every process you do more efficient – that way you can use that saved up time on something more important, like running another experiment. This is another area where software was built to help.

There is still a lot of error-prone copy-pasting of incompatible data from one software to another involved in everyday mundane tasks that scientists need to handle and we need versatile platforms that can make scientist’s life easier and start connecting the data.

Making lab management and project management digital means you can take the tedium out of searching through notes, easily pull reports, track information accurately, and get notifications when you need them.

Quartzy and sciNote were built to make labs more efficient. People often ask, “Well how long does it take to set up the software?”, and that is the best part – your account is created in minutes and populated information is a few clicks away. The investment now means HUGE time savings when it matters most. Plus, our software comes with support – unlike whiteboards and paper.

 

5. PURCHASING LAB SUPPLIES

Purchasing lab supplies comes down to 2 things: shipping time and price. It is hard to get the item you need when you need it and to get the best price for a quality item. That’s where Quartzy helps.

Quartzy gets you a great price by leveraging the buying power our over 300,000 scientists to negotiate with suppliers. Quartzy also manages its own fulfillment center to ensure fast shipping and fewer backorders.

Quartzy’s catalog houses over 2 million items from trusted suppliers AND we show you price, shipping cost, and expected ship time up front. The platform also proactively sends you quotes if an item on your shopping list looks too expensive – this means if you are using Quartzy to keep track of the lab shopping list, we automatically send you quotes to provide you with purchasing options.

 

To summarize

Ever increasing amounts of digital data generated in labs today come with data and time-management related issues. Keeping track of your data, ensuring its full traceability and reproducibility and coordinating the efforts of your and external teams can be quite a challenge. All in all, your lab can achieve success, whatever your definition may be, by becoming more efficient, transparent, and organized. The number one way to tackle these 5 points is to use a software to help you. Luckily there are many low cost and free options for academic and industry labs alike.

 

If you are interested in learning more about either sciNote or Quartzy please email us at and respectively.

 

By Leslie Williams (Quartzy) & Tea Pavlek (sciNote)

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