CALS played a key role in campus rollout of electronic lab notebooks

The recent announcement that the UW-Madison is partnering with LabArchives to provide researchers with electronic lab notebook (ELN) software did not come as a surprise to several CALS researchers and IT experts. Several CALS labs as well as staff in CALS Information Technology were in from the get-go in the trials and evaluation that led choosing this ELN package.

“We became involved in the summer of 2011 when (Agronomy professor) Jean-Michel Ané came to us about getting started with ELN,” says CALS IT Assistant Director Jason Pursian. Pursian set up the software for Ané’s lab and began asking around to see who else on campus was interested in using ELN software. That led to CALS partnering with DoIT Academic Technology and other specialists to evaluate ELN options.

Since then, CALS IT has maintained and supported ELN software services for other researchers in CALS and across campus, and was part of the decision-making that led to UW choosing to go with LabArchives as UW’s ELN vendor.

“We were able to help shape the requirements for an electronic lab notebook on campus. By being involved, we were able to acquire valuable feedback from early adopters such as the Ané Lab, the Pike lab in biochemistry and Phil Barak’s lab in soil science—among other users.

“That feedback was instrumental in giving us a snapshot of how researchers wanted to use an electronic lab notebook, and what we needed to focus on to get something researchers would want to use,” Pursian says. “That helped us be sure we ended up with something that might be well-suited to many users in CALS. It also helped us develop the expertise we need in helping CALS researchers get set up with ELN software.”