Webinar: Go digital! How to do science without lab access?

SciNote & co. at Discovery IT Digital Week 2020: #DiscovIT20

Webinar recording:
Q&A section:

What is the best practice to use SciNote for dry lab from your point of view? For bioinformatics, computational structural biology, molecular dynamics simulations, etc.

In general, it all depends how your own work processes are defined. SciNote enables you to create your inventories, projects, experiments and tasks, upload results, generate reports, collaborate with your team and more. It covers broad aspects of everyday dry lab work. 

You can give it a try on your own, or discuss SciNote’s capabilities with our ELN specialists (please note that you can always address these questions to our support team, or schedule a demo with our key account managers who will gladly walk you through). 

It always takes time to understand the ELN and how it works, to be able to transfer your existing system in a digital format. We strive to keep SciNote flexible enough to adapt to many different lab’s needs, and hopefully allow them enough freedom to structure their data in their preferred way. 

What would be your advice to motivate and engage the whole team to become familiar with the ELN and embrace the change?

A good approach would be to create an ELN implementation committee of interested individuals who will look into different platforms and propose the ones they would choose as the top choices. 

It is also good to include the lab team in testing each platform, listen to their needs and feedback and see which system works best. 

Besides that, it is important to check what level of onboarding and support the ELN vendor is offering to help you get the team on board and teach all team members about using the software. Check whether the support team is responsive and ready to help when you need them. 

Our team’s advice would also be to choose an enthusiastic person from your own team who can become your internal ELN specialist and other team members can refer to with their questions or insecurities. Often, they would approach an internal person with greater ease than the vendor.   

See how SciNote team helps you get your team on board – VIDEO.  

If we are a large organization – is it better to start with one lab and then expand or just go all in?

Large organizations would often choose a gradual approach – start with one entity/unit, test, implement and then expand to the next one etc. It is also possible that one laboratory would prefer one solution over the other so it can also be possible to use different solutions for different units, as long as it fits the strategy of the organization and the software solutions can preferably be interconnected. 

Is this really a good time to implement ELN? –Due to corona mess, we are struggling to keep operations afloat.

We would argue that yes, the subject of going digital is becoming a must. Lab digitalization is an important requirement even from the side of investments and funding. Why is this so? Digital solutions allow labs to have their data organized, searchable, and traceable. Levels of user permissions add another layer of authorized access to information, even when the team needs to work remotely. Besides saving a significant amount of time, team members and lab managers can have a good overview of activities in the lab and progress of the projects. The uncertain situation many labs are facing due to COVID-19 is going to be a serious challenge for many. However, the world is going digital, and now is the time to act.  

If we want to start – is it better to start with new projects or try and enter all legacy projects or ongoing projects in the new ELN?

It depends on the needs of your lab; however, many labs would choose to start with the new projects. Our implementation specialists usually prepare the onboarding based on each lab’s specific use case, and the projects they would like to manage digitally, with the help of an ELN. 

How is SciNote doing with integration in published journal articles? This is useful for data supplementation and can speed up the peer review process.

True, this is a good suggestion. 

We created the Manuscript Writer add-on which helps researchers speed up the writing process by generating the draft of their research paper based on the data they’ve saved and organized in SciNote. 

Regarding the integration with published journal articles, it is definitely an interesting direction which we might think about in the future. 

We tried SciNote and found it is not easy to use and is only good to upload final results and cannot replace the paper lab notebook we use in the lab daily. If SciNote makes various versions, at least one version can replace the paper notebook. That means that making SciNote easier to use.

Every lab has their own preferred way of work and there is no one solution that will fit all. It is perfectly reasonable that SciNote fits some labs better than others. 

Our advice would be, don’t hesitate to talk to the support team, contact us and ask the questions, clarify the things that don’t seem to work for you and get the advice from us whenever you need. 

How is instrument data integrated to the ELN?

SciNote’s API is available for potential integrations with lab instruments and other software solutions used in the labs. 

Currently, we are integrated with Gilson’s connected devices for more productive research

Another way to benefit from SciNote is our flexible inventory management. You can create an inventory of all your lab instruments, create custom columns that can even include links to instruments documentation and other important files, and even connect the instrument data from the inventory with your experiments.

What was the hardest part for you in implementing an ELN? Is there any advice on what to be careful about when implementing it to make sure it all goes well in the lab?

It takes time in the beginning to understand the structure the ELN provides for your data and all functions that are available to you. The hardest part is normally mapping your existing process, with the way the software works. This can be made easier if the ELN vendor’s support team offers onboardings for lab teams and a personalized approach to explaining the software based on your own use case. Also, it is important to ask as many questions as possible, and not jump into conclusions too soon on your own as you might miss many beneficial functions. So, talk to the team and get your answers

Another challenge is motivating the team and helping them get on board, become familiar with and confident in using the ELN. Many labs struggle with user adoption and reluctance to change existing processes. Here, it is important to include the team in the process. Show them how the solution would work on your own use case and address everyone’s greatest concerns.  

We are developing ways to easily connect lab devices, instruments and services to ELN’s. I wonder how your users are currently getting instrument/device data into SciNote. Manual entry? Writing their own integrations via your API? Would they like a more “live” connection of their instruments to the ELN so instructions could be sent, data received back and update the ELN automatically?

Our vision of SciNote in the future is to include many integrations that labs can benefit from and which would save them a significant amount of time. Currently, the instrument data can be entered into SciNote manually, or via API.