This section focuses on the Experiments module. Here, you'll learn everything you need to know to use experiments, improve reproducibility, and streamline your workflow.
Protocols vs. Experiments
Protocols are very similar to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) laid out for the experiments in the lab, while Experiments are the actual write-ups of the experimentations. The outcome of the Experiments includes the results, analysis and any conclusions you have drawn from the work. You can use the IMRAD format (Introduction, Methods, Results, Analysis and Discussion) for the Experiments, but it can be tailored to suit the type of experiment that you are doing.
When working with Experiments, you can assign completion statuses to them. These statuses can be 'Planned,' 'In Progress', or 'Completed.' Changing the status will record the date and time stamp of the action.
Both Protocols and Experiments contain interactive elements that can be worked on. We recommend you add all the interactive elements you need when building your protocol so that you can see them in action at the experiment level.
Right-hand Side Tabs
You'll find tabs on the right-hand side of the Experiment entry similar to those in Protocols. Here are the ones that are different:
Here, you can add your protocols or create new ones. Click "Start" to begin the experiment. Every time you click start, you will create a new experiment. Click the vertical ellipsis ⋮ to lock or remove a protocol. Once a protocol is locked, it will no longer be editable and can only be unlocked by the workspace owner.
You can reorder protocols by dragging the Reorder arrows
The Signature tab allows users to request or sign Experiments without manually doing it. Our electronic signature system supports FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliance, providing a timestamp and an audit trail of the signee who requested the signature and if a signature was revoked. In the case a signature is revoked, a timestamp is also provided.
The Linked Experiments tab lets you create parallel Experiments that build towards a bigger one or simply reference anterior Experiments. You can freely navigate between linked experiments as the referenced Experiments will have a backlink to click on.
Input & Output
In Protocols and Experiments, you'll see "Input" and "Output" in the Inventory and Data tab. Inventory and Data tabs display fields from all protocols in the experiment. You also have the ability to add more.
Please note: Any output field will be cleared when repeating an experiment.
Input vs Output Inventory
When adding an inventory field, you can choose whether it is an input or output item. An input item would be anything you already have in the lab. In contrast, your output item would usually result from an experiment, for example, the final plasmid constructs you've created from the plasmid backbone and the inserts.
Input vs Output Data
Like inventory fields, you can choose whether the data field is an input or output. For example, you can use these output data fields to upload results captured from your microscope.
Experiment templates can be created to save time if you frequently run the same Experiments. You can pre-add all the data fields, inventory fields and protocols related to it. You can then assign the Templates to the Workspace level or choose the Template when creating Experiments for efficiency and standardisation.
Create an Experiment Template
To create an experiment template, click the ellipsis ... on the left-hand side and select Experiment Templates. Then click "New Template".
You can view the workspace's experiment templates from this page. If you have the appropriate permissions, you can manage and edit them from there.
You can restore deleted templates by using the Deleted filter. Filter>Deleted> ⋮ >Restore – this is ubiquitous to the Labstep platform.
Save an Experiment as a Template
You can create a template from an Experiment you've made. Simply click the vertical ellipsis ⋮ and select "Save as Template". Please note that input fields will be preserved, but output fields will be cleared.
Create an Experiment from a Template
Now that your Experiment Templates are set up, you can easily create new experiments using a template. To do so, click the arrow next to "New Experiment", then click "From Template". You can then select the Template you wish to use.
You can use features like the Assign To tool to manage the Experiments' collaborators. If you are a Pro, Enterprise or Academic Plus user with Admin permissions, you can use Custom Roles & Permissions to decide who gets to do what within Experiments.
At the workspace level, combine our collaboration tools and the Timeline View for effective project management. The Timeline View helps you plan and schedule experiments and manage contributors and work completion.
Locking & Signing
Locking an Experiment will prevent any further edits. Only the Workspace Owner and Admins (Pro, Enterprise or Academic Plus only) can unlock it once it's been locked.
To lock an Experiment, click the ⋮ >Lock>Yes.
To unlock an Experiment, click the ⋮ >Unlock>Yes.
Locking and unlocking experiments will be recorded in the Activity Log:
Signatures are a way to enforce processes and reduce risk by adding or requesting signatures and witness statements to your experiment.
If you are the Workspace Owner, you can set the default signature statement and signature request message from the Experiments tab in the Workspace Settings.
Adding a signature
You can add a signature by clicking on "Add Signature". Please note this might not be available depending on your permissions. When adding a signature, you'll also have the option of locking the experiment. Edit your signature statement and click "Sign" or "Sign and lock".
Requesting a signature
Request a signature from a collaborator or supervisor by clicking "Request Signature" and selecting a workspace member. You can customise the signature request message to send, then click "Request".
You can also request signatures in bulk:
Until the request is completed, it will be viewable by clicking "view pending requests".
Revoking a signature
You can revoke a signature by clicking the vertical ellipsis, then "Revoke". Once revoked, the timestamp will be visible in bright red. The ability to revoke a signature will depend on your permissions.
You can filter through your Experiments using the Signature filter and use to sort through the available content. This is a great and efficient way to quickly view what needs to be reviewed and what is completed!
Tips & Advice for Using Experiments
Set up interactive elements when building your protocol so it's easier to run your experiments.
Manage collaborators and assign tasks accordingly using @ mention, comments and notes.
Review the audit trail using the Activity Log – with the Time Machine feature (Pro, Enterprise or Academic Plus only), restore deleted data from the entry.
Connect your Inventory to your research to optimise your workflow using inventory fields.
Track Experiment status and use Filters to view planned, in progress and completed experiments.
☞ Knowledge Check:
How to add and create protocols
How to link experiments
How to lock and sign experiments
How to switch from Table to Timeline View
How to create a new experiment from an Experiment template
This lesson is part of the "Labstep 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started" course. View all lessons here.