An important part of managing your data is how you organize it when it is first created. There are a number of aspects to this. 5 of which are what you name files, the date given, the metadata, where you store the data and privacy.
The name you give to the file, entry or project should be clear in terms of what the file contains. This is because you want the data to be easily identifiable. You should also not make the name too extensive, or it might take time reading through many long titles.
It should be relevant to the content/data. Not only so you can understand it yourself, so others can understand it too, if necessary. This also makes it easier to retrieve it in the future.
In labfolder, you can not only give names to entries, but also to tables, images and files within the entries. Separate from the entries, you can name groups, projects and folders, by naming these, you can keep things organized even easier and have things filed as you would on paper – just digitally!
Another feature of labfolder is that the author of entries is automatically recorded, which means there is one less label to think of. You are also able to filter your entries by author and title in our platform, which makes relevant naming all the more useful.
Your research needs to be dated, the main reason being is that it is simply good laboratory practice. This is because you need to know and have proof of when the experiment was done. This also ensures data integrity because you cannot go and change the values or date (in labfolder), so it cannot be manipulated.
Another practical reason for having date and time stamps is when you need to retrieve the data. When you have many experiments in lots of different files, it can take time to find the data you are looking for. By having dates attached to the entries, you can filter the data to find what you need in no time.
In labfolder, as soon as the entry is created is has a time and date stamp. Further work done on the entry is also recorded, with times and dates, in a full audit trail. There is also, of course, a search and filter feature, enabling you to filter your data as mentioned above.
This section refers partially back to the first two, since it covers the additional data accompanying the scientific data itself. This refers not only to the title, author and date, but also to the unique identifier, description, rights and contributors. In total there are three types of metadata, the one we are covering here is descriptive. The other two are structural and administrative and more can be read about them here.
The unique identifier is needed for a good quality management system. It is also required if you are/want to be working in an ISO certified laboratory. A description might need to go with the data, in order for others to understand it is what they are looking at.
The rights refer to who is allowed access to the data and what they can do with it. In labfolder, you are able to control access rights to your data. The contributors need to be noted in order to make sure proper credit is given when something comes of the research (such as a paper or patent).
With labfolder, each entry is given a unique number and you can control peoples’ access rights to the data. Within projects, you can see the author of each entry, meaning you can see the contributors.
A key part of managing your data is where it is stored. It is one thing to label and categorize it well, but you also need somewhere to store it. Wherever you choose to store it, it needs to be secure and have regular backups performed.
You might store your research in a cloud or local server. You can read more about cloud vs local servers and what labfolder offers over on our blog post about it here.
With regards to backups, these are vital in case there are technical issues at the site of the data storage. Having backups means you will not lose all of your data should disaster strike. If you use a cloud the provider should do the backups for you, whereas you need to perform them yourself with your own server.
This might not sound congruent with data management, but it certainly is. By keeping your data private you can make sure that you are the only one editing and viewing it. So only you know what has been done to it and the experiments that were done to achieve it.
On the other hand, you may actually need to share your data and make it accessible to team members. This would be for collaborative projects and research. In this case, privacy would still be important, but rather to keep non-team members out and not just everyone.
One of the important reasons to keep your data confidential (to yourself or a group) is of course to protect your intellectual property. You will want to do this if you are planning to publish a paper or apply for a patent based on said data.
In labfolder, access is limited by the requirement of login details. You are also able to control who can access your data through access rights of the various users in your team. Through these controls you can make sure that only the people you want will see the data.