Electronic Lab Notebooks in the Institutional RDM Ecology

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03 Aug 2020
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

This meeting of the Research Data Architectures in Research Institutions IG will consider the place of Electronic Lab Notebooks (or, more broadly, Electronic Research Notebooks) in universities, other research institutions, and in relation to their industry partners. 

What role do ELN’s play in the context of institutional infrastructure? How are they connected to other parts of that infrastructure? How should they be connected with other parts of that infrastructure? What benefits would that bring? What is the role of ELNs more broadly? Should we think of ELNs as specific to particular disciplines or narrowly-focused research institutes, or can Electronic Research Notebooks cover the full range of subjects covered by generalist universities? What are the blockers and obstacles to institutional adoption of ELNs? What role do ELNs have in making data FAIR or improving research reproducibility? 

The 2019 RDARI Survey suggests that about 20% of universities already offer some sort of the ELN service, with another 15% reporting that one was in development. Other institutions are considering whether it is worthwhile offering such a service at the institutional level, the faculty level, or whether individual research groups should just be left to their own devices (and budgets). With many groups considering making the switch from paper notebooks to using ELNs in order to more easily share their data and processes between colleagues during Covid-19 lockdowns and under physical travel and working restrictions, now is the perfect time to consider how ELNs fit into institutional RDM architectures.

Meeting agenda: 


Collaborative Notes Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X9CibGnmbqQLyoUwIlciKM-DihKQBqT5G4Ny...


1. Introductions (James Wilson) - 5 mins

2. What we have learnt about Electronic Lab Notebooks / Electronic Research Notebooks from the RDARI survey (James Wilson) - 5-10 mins

3. ELNs/ERNs at Institutions - Integrations and Architectures

  1. ‘Electronic Research Notebooks as a national service?’ - Alastair Downie (Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge)

  2. 'A Place for ELNs in Laborartory Information Management Systems - a case study with expirmental microscope user facility ELNs at NIST' - Gretchen Greene (NIST)

  3. 'Chemotion-ELN: RDM for chemistry and related disciplines' - Nicole Jung & Felix Bach (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)

  4. 'The Role of Electronic Laboratory Notebooks - An Industry Perspective' - David Drake (Astra Zeneca)

4. Group discussion and questions to speakers

5. Summing up, topics to cover in future sessions, new IG chairs (Keith Russell) - 5 mins

Target Audience: 

Anyone involved in research data infrastructure planning projects or services as well as researchers with an interest in systems, technologies and data flows at the institutions level. This particular session will provide a forum where institutional support staff in IT services or the library, researchers, and more senior decision makers at universities and research institutions can discuss how to make the most of electronic lab or research notebooks in an institutional setting.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

The Research Data Architectures in Research Institutions (RDARI) Interest Group is primarily concerned with technical architectures for managing research data within universities and other multi-disciplinary research institutions. It provides insight into the approaches being taken to the development and operation of such architectures and their success or otherwise in enabling good practice.

An institution’s research data management infrastructure consists of more than just a data repository and discovery mechanisms. It includes the underlying storage technologies, the networking, hardware, system interfaces, authentication mechanisms, data brokers, monitoring platforms, semantic interoperability tools, long-term preservation services, high-performance and high-throughput computing facilities, data science platforms, and potentially many other technologies that process data and control the flows of data and metadata between systems. 

Seamless data interoperability and movement between different systems both local and in national or disciplinary services is a particular challenge at present, given the need to provide researchers with a smooth and efficient user experience – a key requirement for any research data service. Governance and policies, project management environments, and communications platforms are also vital elements in shaping and informing IT architectures, as is the management of business information associated with research.

This IG seeks to understand the various architectures used by institutions globally, identify pain points within those architectures, and learn from those who have overcome or avoided those pain points.

The general approach of this IG is to encourage discussion about architectures and enable interested parties to collaborate and learn from one another. Many institutions are at present planning and working towards overarching data management architectures, and there is a legitimate concern that without such a forum as is provided by this IG institutions will relive the same experiences and repeat the same mistakes as their peers.

Short Group Status: 

Recognized and endorsed.

Type of Meeting: 
Informative meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
James A J Wilson (UCL); Alastair Downie (Cambridge); Keith Russell (ADRC); more to be confirmed