SciNote Webinar: Electronic Lab Notebook ELN in an academic lab

How to successfully implement an ELN in an academic lab?

Kelly Lambert, Jacy Jacob, University of Richmond and Klemen Zupancic, CEO SciNote

Held on the 15th of June 2021

Agenda

0:00 – Introduction

4:20 – Kelly Lambert’s presentation of the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory

19:10 – Jacy Jacob’s presentation of SciNote usage in the lab

35:01 – Discussion

43:21 – Q&A session

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Q&A section

Your workflows (webs) seem quite complex. Was the transition from a notebook experiment keeping to the digital one in the ELN easy?

  • The presentation of our workflow seems more complex than it is simply because we extract different dimensions of data from our animals—i.e., behavior, neural correlates, and hormones – data that may be processed at the same time by different students.  If we used a more linear timeline/flowchart, which we could, it would probably appear less complex.  Many studies/projects have a more linear trajectory than our multidimensional research.  Even so, the branching off just depicts the fact that we have several assessments going on after our initial manipulations.  The conceptualization aspect was an engaging experience – but not too difficult (in my opinion).

When do you decide to open a new inventory and not simply create a new column with a drop-down selection to distinguish them from the previous ones? Of course thinking about samples / animals not animal vs chemicals.

  • There’s a couple factors that help us determine when to create a new inventory. The first is remembering that there’s a limited number of inventories our account will support. In our case, it’s 6. It could be argued that we should condense our 3 animal-focused inventories down to 1, perhaps creating a column for “species” or other defining characteristics. For our purposes, we think the relevant columns are different enough that it warrants separating the animals and/or animal tissue we have in the lab into their own inventories.
  • One of the biggest decision factors we use to guide our creation of a new inventory is what are the needed information columns? In the case of chemicals and reagents, despite having a diverse set of materials included, the important information tends to break down similarly – name, vendor/source, storage, hazard level, etc. The animal inventory could start with similar info, if you chose to do species, age, sex, weight, etc., but for our wild rats, we have a fairly common set of other measures that we nearly always collect for those animals compared to our lab rats where we hardly ever collect those measures.
  • The bottom line is that it breaks down to user preference. If you have a number of other types of inventories that you need to incorporate, you might figure out a way to condense an animal inventory down to 1, recognizing that either you’ll have a bunch of columns that are empty for some entries, or, you’ll need to add those additional details within the task and somehow make a clear note that the information is contained within that project task so others can access the information.

This seems like a great way to share information…how do you ensure confidentiality and control trade secrets, copyrights, publications before they are published…how do you prevent data leaks?

  • The answer to this question is in the overall team management practices and policies implemented within the organization itself.
  • SciNote as a software has strong data protection measures in place, including the automatic recording of all activities of all users, audit trails and more. Every user has their own set of permissions and authorized access that is defined on the level of the organization, the team and each individual project. Overall confidentiality and control is a broader subject that has to be integrated throughout your organization.

Do you use a tablet in the lab? If so, what’s a good one to use? Do you use dictation? How do you keep the tablet clean or sterile?

  • Jacy and Kelly are currently not using any tablets in their lab. You can listen to this question in the Q&A section of the webinar.
  • SciNote can be accessed via browser using any tablet. The SciNote team tested: Ipad Air, Samsgung Galaxy Tab Lte, Samsung Galaxy Active PRO and Mio Work L1005. Mio Work and Galaxy PRO are rugged cased tablets that are especially convenient to be used at the bench as they include a barcode reader and are spill, drop and scratch proof.

Did you ever struggle to motivate the students to use the new system? Is there any advice on how to encourage them?

  • This question has been answered in the Q&A section of the webinar.

Would you ever consider going back to paper? Do you still use paper notebooks in addition to ELN or have you completely switched?

  • This question has been answered in the Q&A section of the webinar.

Where are SciNote staff actually working, inside the US or outside?  Is SciNote fully compliant with all relevant human medical information requirements?

  • SciNote is headquartered in the US with offices in EU. Our team is present both in US and EU.
  • This question can be answered more specifically during a demo presentation when we see your exact use case. SciNote is a NIH and FDA trusted solution that supports CFR 21 part 11, GxP, and ISO accredited labs. Software itself can never be “compliant”. The word always refers to the organization itself. Your organization needs to be compliant and meet the requirements. Software can assist you in achieving that.

So students do not enter their observations into SciNote directly? All uploaded information is screened through someone else?  An alternative, digital smart pens can record handwriting and output pdf (with character recognition) ie. Livescribe/Anoto which could be uploaded.

  • That is true, the digital pens are interesting as well. The overall benefit of an ELN is not solely in writing notes, but in recording all activity within the lab, managing the entire team, data, files and all relevant information, long term. The point is to interconnect all data and know who is doing what, when, how and which results were obtained.

How do you control for PI’s who might be tempted to edit experimental results to achieve the results they want rather than the actual observations?

  • The answer to this question is in the overall team management practices and policies implemented within the organization itself.
  • SciNote as a software will automatically record all actions made in the system and these records cannot be edited. It has strong data protection measures in place, including the automatic recording of all activities of all users, audit trails and more. Every user has their own set of permissions and authorized access that is defined on the level of the organization, the team and each individual project. Overall confidentiality and control is a broader subject that has to be integrated throughout your organization.

Imagine having all the experiments of the Wuhan virus lab in SciNote. By sharing it with the community / WHO you can simply close all debates.

  • Thank you for the interesting comment.

Do you also have inventory of certified instruments for quality management and track of qualification of users?

  • In SciNote, inventories are customizable. You can create columns and inventories for the different categories you’d need, including the above.

How do you track and handle problems (audit tracking)?

  • SciNote Premium offers advanced audit trail functionalities.

How do you handle student accounts? Do you have one user account for each individual or do you have shared student accounts?

  • The recommended way is to have a dedicated account for each student to ensure the long term traceability and integrity of data.

How do you cross-link or integrate local digital files (e.g. on a network drive) in Scinote?

  • The easiest way to do that would be by just inserting the hyperlinks to the location on your network drive into the text field. Often our customers do it this way and upload to SciNote just the most relevant files while they keep some of the raw data on their network drive. 

How can you get team members on board that are less tech-savvy?

  • Getting less tech savvy team members on board is definitely not an easy job. It is important that the person who takes ownership of the implementation prepares the structure in SciNote that the users would find intuitive and especially that it feels familiar to them. It is also important to let the users know they can always reach out to the super user in the company and to SciNote’s support whenever they need to. Lastly, our customer success team is always there to help you with setting up a sensible and intuitive structure and to also offer additional support to everyone who is less tech savvy.

 Did you make a connection between neuro lab ELN and Richmand Knowledge platform for Business analysis purposes and data visualisation? 

  • Not yet. SciNote API is available for potential integrations. If you would like to elaborate further, feel free to contact us anytime.
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