Where sample management meets electronic lab notebook

Current Articles | RSS Feed

7 Things you can do in the electronic lab notebook eCAT (but not Google Docs!)

Posted by Rory on July 15th, 2010 @ 7:00 am

In the last post I looked at how the interface of eCAT version 3.3 is  modelled on the familiar interface of Google Docs.  This time we’ll take a look at things labs can do in eCAT to document experiments and structure and share research data.  Things you can’t do with Google Docs.   It’s a long list but here are some of the main ones:

  • Create templates like the following one with the structure that suits your research rather than the structure imposed by a spreadsheet, a word document or a wiki page

  • Use links between records to create databases like the following one that capture your workflow and relationships like those between an experiment and the samples used in the experiment

  • Utilize the structures you put into your research records to (a) set up uniform methods of entering data, improving its quality and consistency, and (b) conduct fine-grained search — e.g. on all the records with Procedure field containing ‘ELISA’ — so that eCAT becomes a  repository which can be used by newcomers to the lab and others who did not work on a particular piece of research
  • Set up groups of users and variable permissions on a record by record basis, e.g. give the PI view and edit permission on the records in a particular Project or, on a postdocs’s experiment, give view only permissions to a PhD student who has been assigned to observe the experiment, and keep some records entirely private
  • View a full audit trail of all actions undertaken in eCAT
  • Sign and authorize experiments
  • Send messages and set tasks, which can be associated with particular records, so that eCAT becomes a tool for communication as well as collaboration

In sum,with eCAT you get the all the advantages of an online collaborative tool like Google Docs and the ability for everyone in the lab to bring their labbooks online.  So you can manage your research data along with general lab information in a single, integrated collaborative environment.