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User perspectives of metadata use in electronic laboratory notebooks

User perspectives of metadata use in electronic laboratory notebooks
User perspectives of metadata use in electronic laboratory notebooks
The drive towards more transparency in research and open data increases the importance of being able to find information and make links to the data. The amount of electronic data produced and the move away from the familiar and convenient paper notebook to electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) provides more scope for sharing information, but also makes it more difficult to find. Machine generated metadata helps with sharing across software and systems and also assists with retrieval for machines, but not necessarily in a form friendly for the humans that need it. Metadata is an essential ingredient for use in ELNs to make experiment data and associated notes and interpretations easier to retrieve and more organized.

Electronic lab notebooks and other recording software captures useful metadata like date, time, and location, but are reliant upon users to add meaningful metadata like topic and person after the recording process.

The University of Southampton has developed an ELN that enables users to add their own metadata to notebook entries. A survey of 110 of these ELNs was completed to assess user behavior and patterns of metadata usage within ELNs. In addition, the user perceptions and expectations of metadata in ELNs were gathered through user interviews and user testing activities of different groups. The findings from both indicate that whilst some groups are comfortable with metadata and are able to design a metadata structure that works effectively, many users have no knowledge of where to start to define metadata or even an understanding of what it is, and why it is useful.

Strategies for encouraging and improving metadata use in ELNs from the study findings including improving interface design, user education, standard schema designs, and encouraging collaboration between same discipline groups to promote consistency and best practices.
Willoughby, Cerys
118d1e49-2c54-4f4d-bd49-fe3a192df9d7
Frey, Jeremy G.
ba60c559-c4af-44f1-87e6-ce69819bf23f
Tonkin, Emma
f10342b6-2599-42b5-9b6a-33f3df320d32
Coles, Simon J.
3116f58b-c30c-48cf-bdd5-397d1c1fecf8
Bird, Colin Leonard
0b41e36f-14b8-4995-a441-0467cce0201a
Willoughby, Cerys
118d1e49-2c54-4f4d-bd49-fe3a192df9d7
Frey, Jeremy G.
ba60c559-c4af-44f1-87e6-ce69819bf23f
Tonkin, Emma
f10342b6-2599-42b5-9b6a-33f3df320d32
Coles, Simon J.
3116f58b-c30c-48cf-bdd5-397d1c1fecf8
Bird, Colin Leonard
0b41e36f-14b8-4995-a441-0467cce0201a

Willoughby, Cerys, Frey, Jeremy G., Tonkin, Emma, Coles, Simon J. and Bird, Colin Leonard (2013) User perspectives of metadata use in electronic laboratory notebooks. Research Data Access & Preservation Summit (RDAP1), Baltimore, United States. 03 - 04 Apr 2013.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)

Abstract

The drive towards more transparency in research and open data increases the importance of being able to find information and make links to the data. The amount of electronic data produced and the move away from the familiar and convenient paper notebook to electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) provides more scope for sharing information, but also makes it more difficult to find. Machine generated metadata helps with sharing across software and systems and also assists with retrieval for machines, but not necessarily in a form friendly for the humans that need it. Metadata is an essential ingredient for use in ELNs to make experiment data and associated notes and interpretations easier to retrieve and more organized.

Electronic lab notebooks and other recording software captures useful metadata like date, time, and location, but are reliant upon users to add meaningful metadata like topic and person after the recording process.

The University of Southampton has developed an ELN that enables users to add their own metadata to notebook entries. A survey of 110 of these ELNs was completed to assess user behavior and patterns of metadata usage within ELNs. In addition, the user perceptions and expectations of metadata in ELNs were gathered through user interviews and user testing activities of different groups. The findings from both indicate that whilst some groups are comfortable with metadata and are able to design a metadata structure that works effectively, many users have no knowledge of where to start to define metadata or even an understanding of what it is, and why it is useful.

Strategies for encouraging and improving metadata use in ELNs from the study findings including improving interface design, user education, standard schema designs, and encouraging collaboration between same discipline groups to promote consistency and best practices.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 4 April 2013
Venue - Dates: Research Data Access & Preservation Summit (RDAP1), Baltimore, United States, 2013-04-03 - 2013-04-04
Organisations: Chemistry

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 353871
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/353871
PURE UUID: 9acd11c4-5275-4bf8-a76c-8a76e8cee336
ORCID for Jeremy G. Frey: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0842-4302
ORCID for Simon J. Coles: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8414-9272

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 21 Jun 2013 14:26
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:53

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Contributors

Author: Cerys Willoughby
Author: Jeremy G. Frey ORCID iD
Author: Emma Tonkin
Author: Simon J. Coles ORCID iD
Author: Colin Leonard Bird

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