Research in commercial laboratories closely models the conventional Scientific Method: Observation, Question, Hypothesis, Experimentation, Conclusion, and Result. Each step requires careful consideration and planning. In most modern laboratories, scientists document and record content pertaining to each facet of the Scientific Method in personal lab notebooks. It’s important to ask; is that content readily accessible to everyone who needs it? Are there important facts and data locked away in someone’s lab notebook in a desk or filing cabinet? What can be done to change this situation?
When you replace paper processes with the LabVantage electronic lab notebook, or ELN, it’s no longer necessary to flip through pages to find that experiment you did six months ago. A coworker got that big promotion? No problem, with an ELN you can search for their experiments and quickly reference their findings and progress. Are you curious about LabVantage ELN and how it can help you and your team? Let’s take a look together; leave the Stone Age of the Flintstones, and join the Jetsons in the future!
In this blog post, we will discuss how LabVantage ELN brings value to the table in the form of standardized worksheet templates, in-depth querying tools to find data in the future, and ease of implementation and training due to the similar look and feel between LabVantage LIMS and ELN.
LabVantage LIMS is a collection of different modules which can be configured to meet the needs of your business processes. LabVantage ELN is one of those modules; embedded into the system code. There’s no need to rely on other vendor offerings or maneuver through a difficult implementation to get ready to use the ELN. LabVantage ELN is included as part of the LabVantage LIMS and mimics the behavior and functionality of other Sapphire Data Collections (SDCs) such as Samples, Projects, etc. The LabVantage ELN module is based on the concept of workbooks and worksheets. Workbooks are at the top of the structural level, with worksheets belonging to workbooks. Worksheets are based on templates that are configured to capture predefined work streams in LIMS and are associated with a workbook.
Workbooks can be configured to organize by project, user, test, or some other common characteristic that the documented experiments belong to. Worksheets, while based on admin-configured templates, are able to be modified by users by adding or removing sections and controls. Sections are the vehicle by which worksheets are organized, and controls are tools used to document the experiment being performed.
With LabVantage ELN as an integrated module in LabVantage LIMS, a consistent look and feel are maintained. Users don’t have to learn a whole new system, just different steps within a system with which they are already comfortable. This greatly assists with user acceptance. Familiar navigation via sitemaps and menus, and similarities within SDC lifecycles increase the user adoption rate.
Each laboratory, and each scientist, is unique. Labs are set up and run according to the type of work necessary for the job function, while each scientist is trained by different people throughout their education and career. Without a company-sponsored training program, employees often revert to their academic experience (where they likely used paper-based processes) when it comes to documenting experimentation and results. If everyone does everything a little bit differently, it makes it very hard to find or understand one another’s work. Using the LabVantage ELN, we can introduce worksheet and control templates to standardize how information is gathered, documented, and presented, making it easier to find what you want, when you want it.
Traditional lab notebooks often contain not only current experiments, but weeks, months, or even years of previous data. All it takes is one spill, or an accidental misplacement, and all that valuable data is gone. LabVantage ELN is accessed via your favorite browser, ensuring your work can always be located in the same place, and for as long as your company maintains electronic records.
LabVantage ELN lets the user record experiment progress, intermediate and final results, as well as conclusions based on findings. Configure controls that perform calculations automatically, or import data directly from LIMS and reduce transcription errors. It’s also possible to incorporate peripheral workflows into the ELN that support the lab research—reaction checklists, toolbox talks, and change management can all be captured in ELN.
Conventional lab notebooks can be shared among colleagues, but that practice is fraught with complications. Sharing conflicts, handwriting issues, or damage to notebooks can all set back the timeline of work in the lab. In LabVantage ELN, individuals can work together as collaborators and make changes to the same worksheet.
Are you curious about whether your company or current colleagues have ever tried a certain type of experiment? With paper notebooks, it could take literal years to search for any evidence of that work. With ELN, an ad hoc query can keyword search in every worksheet you have access to…in seconds! Save your company and yourself time and money by referencing and building on old work rather than repeating experimentation.
The ability to structure ELN templates into a consistent presentation of information is a great way to document and enforce experimentation steps and progress.
With the relative ease of implementing ELN workbooks and worksheets in your LabVantage system, you enable powerful abilities to capture your valuable research and maintain it for years to come. The uniform platform with having LabVantage LIMS and ELN together means your users will feel comfortable out of the gates with the ELN structure and workflow. Capture simple or complex experimentation steps in structured worksheets to create consistency with data reporting. Leave the Flintstones and their outdated paper notebooks; join the Jetsons and let your research soar with LabVantage ELN!
How will you use the LabVantage ELN in your lab? Tell us in the comments below.