Duke University supports a LabArchives Electronic Research Notebook (ERN) institutional license for the Duke research community. It is a web-based application designed for scientists to create, store, share and manage their research data. A LabArchives Notebook may be shared among any number of Duke users; access rights are controlled by the Notebook Owner/Administrator and can be easily modified to suit the individual needs of each researcher or contributor. The platform is flexible and can be customized to support multiple different research workflows.
All data entered into LabArchives is date and time stamped with the user who completed the action recorded as well. The timestamp is generated by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standard time. Each action (e.g., addition, deletion or revision) has a unique timestamp, and previous versions can be viewed. No data or notebook entries may be permanently deleted from Duke LabArchives notebooks (i.e. data and entries may be edited and moved into the notebook’s “trashcan”, but they can always be restored). This ensures full data traceability and supports intellectual property rights by documenting who did what and when they did it. LabArchives also offers a “page signing” feature which permanently freezes a specific version of a notebook page (i.e. no further edits can be made to the page or the data on it).
Although LabArchives automatically creates new versions every time a change is made to a file, it can still be helpful to create copies of files and create manual "versions" of files so that you can easily go back to the raw file or a specific stage of the analyzed file. This is important for HTML exported versions of your notebook, where only the current version of every file can be exported.
Rich text data, tables, images, sketches, as well as annotations of images are supported. Any file (less than 15GB per individual file) can be uploaded, but not all files can be edited within LabArchives. For files that exceed this 15GB limit, you can link to files or folders from another server by adding a URL or a server address.
No one can view your research notebook without your permission and/or knowledge. To share your notebook (either full notebook or sections) with team members or collaborators follow this LabArchives link. You can provide read-only or edit access to collaborators.
The LabArchives service is in use at multiple US academic research institutions and has a record of high availability. However, your access to LabArchives, like other web-based services, is dependent on internet connectivity. If you are offline, or if the LabArchives service is down, you will not be able to edit or access the most recent version of your notebooks. LabArchives notebooks are backed up in triplicate through Amazon Web Services, so when the internet activity is restored, all notebooks and data will be restored and accessible.
If desired, individual research groups may create locally stored copies of their LabArchives notebooks by exporting the notebooks in either PDF or HTML formats. This backup strategy can be helpful, but care must be taken to keep track of multiple copies of exported versions. Note that "exported" versions of your notebook only contain the most current version and the version history will not be exported. Sometimes, creating manual "versions" of files can be helpful for this reason- so that you can always go back to the raw file or a specific stage of the analyzed file, instead of only relying on the automatic version control.
Yes, and once signed, those pages are no longer editable (LabArchives knowledgebase on page signing). LabArchives also offers a “witness” feature, which means that the page must be reviewed by a specified member of the research team before the version is officially considered signed and frozen as the final version. The witness feature helps to ensure that there is additional review and oversight of the page’s contents before it is signed and frozen (LabArchives knowledgebase on witnessing a signed page).
LabArchives hosts all of its software and customer data at Amazon data centers located in two regions: the primary is US East (Virginia) and their failover is US West (Oregon). Data are always stored within the United States and does not travel outside of US borders.
LabArchives can be used to store files of any format as long as the individual file size is less than 15GB. However, while developing and testing new coding scripts for computational analysis, the coding script files may be better stored in a different repository designed to track version control and other computational notes and requirements. Some people have used Jupyter or RStudio for writing, editing and testing the code as it is being developed and allows for improved documentation and linkage to datasets. And then version control can be maintained in your personal library with Git or in a web-repository through Github. Additional version control resources include Duke GitLab and Duke Libraries is currently testing CodeOcean for improved reproducibility when archiving coding scripts.
Duke has an institutional notebook (LabArchives @Duke Support) made available to all Duke LabArchives users. Within the LabArchives @Duke Support notebook, there is a "Custom Widgets" folder that contains custom widgets from LabArchives users at Duke and other institutions that you can copy, edit, test, and use in your notebooks. Please contact ASIST if you have developed widgets that you think the Duke community might find useful and they will be posted into this institutional support notebook where the Duke community may access them.
Duke researchers may share a notebook or part of a notebook with an unlimited number of non-Duke collaborators. Notebook ownership cannot be transferred to a non-Duke collaborator, but a non-Duke collaborator may be given a “guest” role with read-only privileges for as long as is needed or read-edit privileges for 60 days. Additionally, Duke’s institutional LabArchives license provides Duke notebook owners with the option to grant a limited number of non-Duke collaborators a “user” role which will remain active for as long as is needed by the notebook owner.