The 12 Days of Labguru - Part I: How to Start Organizing Your Lab for 2013

Christmas Bob

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…  Many researchers and their families will be counting down the 12 Days of Christmas in this classic carol over the holiday season.  But what busy researchers really need is 11 grad students pipetting instead of pipers piping, 10 postocs a-publishing instead of lords a-leaping, and tenure would be so much sweeter than a partridge in a pear tree.  This year, more PIs than ever are making (and fulfilling) resolutions to increase research efficiency, output and organization through digital project management.  Labguru, recently honored as one of the Top 10 science innovations of 2012 by The Scientist magazine, is holding a New Year’s Sale to make that commitment easier than ever to keep.

But what happens after you open a Labguru account for your lab?  Some researchers have never used such a comprehensive online lab management software before, and may not know where to begin in populating the different modules.  Some researchers haven’t used project or lab management tools before period. And others still, may not have physically organized their laboratories in a long time.  True fulfillment of your New Year’s resolution for research efficiency involves both purchasing a lab management software, such as Labguru, and using it to its maximum potential, which is much easier than you might believe.  By breaking down the transition into small daily tasks (especially as a united lab), in less than two weeks, you can not only set up a smart, efficient way to track research progress, plan experiments and manage your collections and ordering, but you can also have an organized, spotless lab to start the new year.

Think of it as The Twelve Days of Labguru!

Day 1 & Day 2 – Labguru's Knowledgebase Module

As a group effort, use two days to start populating your Knowledgebase module, the part of Labguru that lets your lab go “paperless” by organizing protocols, papers and important lab documents.  Have grad students and postdocs split entering a handful of major lab protocols each, to have a permanent record of group protocols. These protocols can then all be immediately converted into new experiments within the Research module (elaborated in the upcoming Part II of this post), and then be pulled up by our free iPad application directly while working on the bench. Start adding digital copies of major lab documents like grants, publications pending, SOPs, bio-safety protocols, slideshows and other resources.  Declutter those shelves full of binders, where you can’t find anything anyway!  Finally, use our "Quick-add papers" feature or import a complete reference library file to populate Labguru with your list of publications and the papers relevant for your research. Watch the below video to learn how you can easily manage your reference library in Labguru:

Day 3 & Day 4 – Specimen Module

The Specimen module is a database used for organizing the biological collections of the lab – bacteria, viruses, Drosophila flies, mice, yeasts, worms and more.  With our instantaneous import option, along with the fact that most labs organize their specimen collections on spreadsheets to some degree, setting up your database should not be difficult. Simply click the import button to download our Excel template, and use it to start uploading your most critical collections in bulks. Use the “Add New” button to manually enter specimens one by one. You can also customize the columns of data as well as their order of appearance according to your lab’s experimental priorities and needs.  Take a look, for example, at how the Rodents module can help with mouse colony management for a research lab that works with mice:

Day 5 & Day 6 – Molecular Module

Labguru’s Molecular module will allow you to have a central database of all of your genes, primers, plasmids, antibodies, proteins, lipids and other molecular tools.  Use the import function here too, for a quick upload of your existing lists of molecular entities. Customization of table columns order and appearance is available in this module as well. Once stored in Labguru, you can use a basic set of bioinformatic tools to quickly analyze your sequences. you can also view an annotated map of imported sequences including a restriction map. Watch the below video and learn how to upload plasmids and sequences into Labguru:

See how easy it is to get started?  Over time, you will expand each of these collections and complete documenting your lab’s resources until you are exclusively using Labguru for cataloging, tracking, searching and for maintenance of your papers, protocols, samples and collections.

In our upcoming Part of The 12 Days of Labguru we will walk you through our Storage and Molecular modules, and show how to link all your lab’s resources together to maintain research context and continuity, by using Labguru’s Research module, which documents the projects and experiments running in your lab.

Until then – Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from the Labguru team!

2012NewYear card