In the last few years, digital tools are gaining popularity. As in many other aspects of life, digitalization is finding its place in the laboratory environment. It is not a surprise. The list of advantages that the switch to online software has in day-to-day work is long.
On the other hand, the jump from paper to digital can be a bit overwhelming at times. To help you in your decision, here is a list of 5 reasons why you should consider making the move, if you haven’t done it yet.
Coronavirus showed us how important it is to be able to access your data and your work when you are far away from your laboratory or workplace. Now that we are leaving the pandemic behind, there’s still plenty of situations where we need to work remotely: when you work from home as a way to improve work-life balance (specially important to solve gender gap 1, 2); when you are abroad for a conference or visiting another lab; or even when you move forward in your career and start a new position. In all these cases, the flexibility of online software can be a great advantage: You can access it anytime, anywhere and from any device. The possibilities are virtually endless.
One of the biggest concerns in science is reproducibility. According to a Nature’s survey3 of 1,576 researchers, 52% of them think that there is a significant “crisis” of reproducibility. Under the same line, an online poll of members of the American Society for Cell Biologist4, more than 70% of those surveyed afirm to have tried and failed to reproduce an external experiment, and even more surprisingly, 50% of them have failed to reproduce their own experiments.
The reasons behind this are many: from poor analysis or experimental design, to human error or lack of complete methods’ information. The list goes on, but in many of these cases, using online software could help increase reproducibility. They are designed to be consistent, follow industry standards and facilitate automated experiments and data collection.
Online tools are also designed to share your files and results easily with colleagues and collaborators. Aside from facilitating record-keeping and making your life easier, sharing is more important than ever. In the past years more publishers and funders are encouraging, even demanding, depositing raw datas and protocols in a repository. In this scenario, using online tools can become a huge advantage.
Also, improving the way you share your raw data, results and protocols positively impacts the reproducibility of your experiments. A study published in Plos One5 indicates that sharing detailed research data is associated with increased citation rate. Sharing not only improves your work but also the quality and robustness of science in general.
4. SAVE TIME:
Online tools help you to simplify your workflow and save time. Although in many cases you can do the same work with pen and paper, the online versions make it quicker. They are designed to free you from normally boring and time-consuming tasks and to improve one, or several, key steps of an experiment (creation, execution, data collection, data processing and calculations).
Moreover, using a toll helps to compare results across multiple runs and, even more exciting, when you deal with large amounts of data and samples, it can help you see the results in a global way and find connections.
5. INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY:
And last but not least, using online tools improves productivity and efficiency. Besides saving time, using online software avoids the mistakes and typical human errors that can ruin an experiment: misscopy data, transcription errors, data loss, haphazard record storage… They also help to optimize workflow and automate processes. In summary, using online tools is a great way to boost your productivity in the lab.
As you can see, everyone can benefit from changing to online software. From small labs to big biotech companies. There are plenty of options out there. If you are thinking of making the transition, we recommend to start small first and try different solutions to find the one that suits you and improves your workflow.
At Bufferfish, we do our best to create chemistry software and result analysis tools to make your life easier so you can really focus on your research.
- The Oxford Student: https://www.oxfordstudent.com/2021/02/25/women-are-still-disadvantaged-in-stem-and-the-pandemic-is-only-making-it-worse/
- Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrealoubier/2017/03/13/how-working-remotely-is-helping-women-close-the-gender-gap-in-tech/?sh=5a9376bf4ea7
- The American Society for Cell Biology: https://www.ascb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/final-survey-results-without-Q11.pdf
- Plos One: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000308#references