, 3:2,
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Date: 27 Jun 2011

The benefits of integrated systems for managing both samples and experimental data: An opportunity for labs in universities and government research institutions to lead the way

Abstract

Currently most biomedical labs in universities and government funded research institutions use paper lab notebooks for recording experimental data and spreadsheets for managing sample data. One consequence is that sample management and documenting experiments are viewed as separate and distinct activities, notwithstanding that samples and aliquots are an integral part of a majority of the experiments carried out by these labs.

Various drivers are pushing labs towards integrated management of sample data and experimental data. These include the ever increasing amounts of both kinds of data, the increasing adoption of online collaborative tools, changing expectations about online communication, and the increasing affordability of electronic lab notebooks and sample management software. There is now an opportunity for smaller labs, which have been slow to move from paper to electronic record keeping, to leapfrog better resourced commercial labs and lead the way in adopting the new generation of tools which permit integrated management of samples and experimental data and a range of tangible benefits to conducting research, including:

  1. Fewer lost and mislabelled samples

  2. Clearer visualization of relationships between samples and experiments

  3. Reduction of experimental error

  4. More effective search

  5. Productivity gains

  6. More efficient use of freezers, leading to cost reduction and enhanced sustainability

  7. Improved archiving and enhanced memory at the lab and institutional levels