Photo: Joachim Rode

Researchers acquire common data storage methodology

Thursday 28 Sep 17
The Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre is participating in a pilot project to store and share research data using electronic lab notebooks.

All too often research findings are stored in private computer folders or written by hand. This can prove problematic when researchers share their findings with others or take over an area of research from a colleague who has left the organization. In line with the increasing volumes of research data, there is a need for good solutions for storing, sharing, retrieving, and reusing research data. One of the solutions is called electronic lab notebooks—or ELN in English.

In the newly established pilot project ‘DTU ELN network’, DTU Library is collecting experience from selected research groups at DTU. Among other things, the network aims to provide researchers with information about the tools available on the market for handling data—as well as the tools used at DTU.

The project will conclude with a report that will form the basis for how DTU can promote the use of electronic lab notebooks in the future.

“The pilot project was initiated because several researchers requested data documenting tools, but also because scientific journals such as Nature and the EU’s support programme for research and innovation—Horizon 2020—focus on storing, sharing, retrieving, and reusing research data from funded projects,” says Paula Martinez Lavanchy, Project Assistant at DTU Library.

The pilot project is firmly anchored in DTU’s Research Data Management Forum and is part of a national strategy to secure Denmark better and more competitive research through efficient collection and reuse of relevant research data.

The aim is efficient research
The Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre is among the first to join the pilot project. In autumn, the centre—which is a partnership consisting of five Danish research institutions—tested three different data handling solutions, opting to proceed with a cloud-based Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN).

Since January, the researchers have been trained in using the system, with each researcher holding a license to create projects and experiments. They can, for example, insert graphs, pictures and text, document procedures, and share information with each other—also externally. The aim is to share knowledge, streamline work, free up resources, and save time.

Common methods
“We threw ourselves into the project, as we are a new organization with many groups that store data in different ways. The project has afforded us the opportunity to create a common way to store and verify data from the outset and to ensure a common practice across academic disciplines. This means that the researchers no longer have to familiarize themselves and use the various data systems of the individual professional groups,” says Project Manager Jesper Holst, Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre.

The pilot projects will end in March 2018.