Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), known for sponsoring SOPA, went full stupid and drafted a bill that would fundamentally alter the way the NSF doles out its grant dollars. If good ole Lamar had his way, that kooky concept of peer review would be gone and the science funding would be decided by whether your research met certain vague criteria like:
1) "… in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;
2) "… the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and
3) "… not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies."
And if it didn't make it worse it would set off a chain event that would probably force other federal science agencies to have to adopt this funding philosophy as well. For more on the matter see the writeup in Science or at RawStory.
Lamar, you so crazy...
As we move to a much more technology based research infrastructure I am seeing plenty of people dumping the good old hardbound laboratory notebooks for electronic notebooks. Instead of paper based archives of samples, freezer storage, and to do list, we are slowly gravitating to works database systems, excel spreadsheets, or FileMaker Pro databases. At some point why not combine these databases with your data storage in addition to your research and literature notes that some research groups are stashing in individual lab wikis. Why not use an all encompassing system to house your entire electronic research infrastructure including your data, literature searches, sample storage locations, and supply inventory in lieu of being spread across the technological four corners of the Earth?
This is what Labguru can do for you. Labguru is a project management browser-based software commonly referred to as “software as a service” that safely and securely stores your data in the cloud. The fine folks at BioData, makers of BioKm software, gave me a free trial to play around with their system for a little while. I have to say that I’m quite impressed with it, especially since I have been quietly shopping and testing electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) systems for our lab, and this is as fine of one as there is on the market. And I’m being honest about this; I’m running a free trial, which I will terminate after this post, is published.
Labguru would be an ideal piece of software for new PI’s that are starting up their labs or ones that have to manage a horde of undergraduates. Labguru allows you to set the tone as far as the way you record and report your research which is invaluable when you have a slew of transients passing through the doors of your lab. You don’t need to be trying to decipher data from the arcane shorthand of an undergrad from two summers ago that fell off the face of the earth once they left your lab. Instead, drill down into their annotated your way project files and open up the excel file and snag the data you need.
I’m still working my way through the software but find it very interesting if you are in the market for this type of software. It is not without fault, I have found a few minor issues that I have communicated to BioData but I think they can iron out these before they roll out the software. Also they are receptive to suggestions so why not kick the tires on the thing and if you find something you don’t like, let them know so they can get to work on it. The cost of Labguru isn’t too bad considering how much you can do with it and the fact that it is a software as a service, you don’t have to worry about all the data clogging up your computer’s hard drive. So take the tour and see if you like it.
Labguru - Tour from BioData Ltd on Vimeo.
Note: This is an unpaid and unsolicited review. I have received no compensation for this, even refused the free T-shirt. If you would like me to review your products let me know and I would be happy to.