The word "scientist" can conjure up many images. Some might envision an individual with lab goggles, a pristine white lab coat, a pocket protector jam packed with pens, and a look of complete concentration on their face as they hold a bubbling beaker with forceps. Others might picture a man with untamed gray hair, scrawling complex formulas across a chalk board, darting to and fro to search for their data in a room overflowing with notes and books -- somewhere between Albert Einstein and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future . Entertaining stereotypes aside, every scientist and researcher has certain things in common; they need to organize their data, collaborate with their peers, and publish their work. For those very reasons, every scientist can benefit from LabArchives.
LabArchives is a web-based electronic notebook designed to help scientists manage large amounts of information. With the data secured on a "multiply-redundant network of servers," users can safely store or retrieve their data at anytime, no matter where they are in the world. The tool also facilitates collaboration, allowing users to share data with an entire laboratory or an individual peer. "There are enormous problems with using analog technology in a digital world," explains Earl Beutler, LabArchives President & CEO, "with this in mind we formed LabArchives as a powerful and inexpensive solution to these problems." Paper notebooks filled with research notes can instead be digitally organized in a central location. Reliance on email as a means of collaboration is no longer a necessity when you can share specific information across the globe using an online lab notebook. Research data can be collected and organized in a more efficient manner, making the process of getting information to publishers more streamlined. Scientific research is constantly shaping our future, by using the latest web-based technology LabArchives is ushering in a new era for scientific data management.
Created in 2009, LabArchives is the brainchild of several experts in web-based technology and scientific computing. Among them is the aforementioned Earl Beutler, former CEO and co-founder of RefWorks. He is joined by a technology team headed by Kirk Schneider and Steve Maybo, both of whom were also responsible for the creation and early success of RefWorks; together they boast several decades of combined expertise in the fields of information technology and web-development. Although their experience is a valuable asset, there are still bound to be bumps in the road when developing a product that uses cutting edge technology. However, Beutler notes, "the biggest challenge has been getting [scientists] to change the way they've been doing things for years. Almost everyone recognizes this is the way to go, but it's not always easy to change."
Regardless of the challenges they've faced in the areas of development and marketing, their efforts are clearly paying off. As Beutler points out, "There has been an incredibly enthusiastic response from the user community. Many scientists, especially in academia, had been waiting for an affordable solution like LabArchives, and they tell us it has greatly improved their productivity and organization in the lab." The basic version of LabArchives is free, while an upgraded Professional version can be purchased, offering more storage space per user. In addition, there is a new Classroom Edition that is "being adopted by many colleges (and high schools) for use in undergraduate laboratory courses." Beutler also touches on the fact that they are open to working with universities to offer site-licenses; this means that if you're a graduate student in the sciences, now is the time to start encouraging (or badgering) your department and institution to invest in a product that can make your research exponentially more efficient.
One of the most significant areas of impact has been the ability to share information with peers, as well as publicly. "The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently mandated that all NSF funded research data must be made publicly available, a trend that seems to be expanding to other funding agencies," explains Beutler, "with this functionality in LabArchives, compliance is greatly simplified for many investigators." LabArchives is also working with leading software companies, such as GraphPad Software and Tree Star Inc., in order to integrate their offerings. Recently a mobile version was released, allowing users set up an account and access LabArchives via their mobile devices. Through improving data organization and management, working with leading software companies in the industry, and staying relevant by utilizing the latest technology, LabArchives is quickly becoming the hub of the laboratory work-flow.
Visit their website to learn more about the benefits and features of LabArchives.