Data Elements

Data reproducibility requires that all protocols, methods, and results are properly annotated and can be accessed anytime by you, your colleagues, and even external scientists. Unfortunately, data in your lab notebook is not structured, reducing the possibility to reproduce it.

Let’s be honest for a moment. How annoying is it that all our data inputs are not always formatted in the same manner? Sometimes we write 500 ul, other times we used 0,5 ml to annotate the exact same step in the same protocol. Although we know that both values are the same, our lab notebook does not…. Well, it didn’t!

labfolder’s Data Elements (DE) block is the perfect tool to help you organize your experimental parameters. You can pick from different physical quantities and units to write down your parameters and you can also link to your lab’s inventory items.

The Data Elements block

DE are a new type of block that you can find in the entry header next to the Text, Table, Sketch, and Upload icons.
You have these possibilities when working on the DE block:

  • Insert a single Data element.
  • Insert a Data group with several experimental parameters.
  • Insert an item from your Material Database, referenced here as a Material element.


Single Data element

  1. Click on the Data Elements icon.
  2. Add a Data element by specifying:
    1. Data element name.
    2. Physical quantity (mandatory).
    3. Amount.
    4. Units (mandatory).
      Save the block.


Data group

  1. Click on the Data Elements icon.
  2. Select Data group.
  3. Add a name to the group (e.g. PCR).
  4. Click on the + icon next to the group name.
  5. Add one or more single elements.
  6. Save the block.


Material Database element

  1. Click on the Data Elements icon.
  2. Select Material element.
  3. Search for the name of the MDB element.
  4. Select the desired item.
  5. Save the block.


Connecting your ELN and MDB


The Material Database elements are the key to the connection between your ELN and the Material Database. It enables you to reference the items listed in your database to your entries. When you do reference something from your material database, a hyperlink is created.

The item it links to is versioned, so will not be affected if you make changes to the item in your material database. You will see a note at the bottom of the page saying that a newer version of the item is available.

Advanced search

Like we mentioned before, you know unit conversions by heart but so far there was no tool that provided an equivalent artificial intelligence in a scientific setting. Thanks to DE, labfolder knows that 500 ul is the same as 0.5 ml and that 600 ul is bigger than both.

This means that you can search all your PCR experiments in which you used 500 ul of PCR Buffer in the Master mix and also see the ones where you or your colleagues mentioned 0.5 ml.

This advanced search can provide you with even better data insights. You will be able to apply logic gates (AND, OR, NOT) allowing you to fine tune your search. For example, you can search for all the PCR experiments where you added 0.5 ml of Buffer to the mix but did NOT use TAQ Polymerase. This is how you can use logic gates in labfolder:

You also know that 0.5 ml are bigger than 0.4 ml but your paper lab notebook does not know that and you can’t just say, “Give me all my entries in which I used more than 400 ul of PCR Buffer in my PCR.” That exact same request can be processed with our Advanced search. See how it works:

It is important to mention that this search is also available in templates. So you can always find your DE elements in the protocols you are using and sharing with your team.

Upgrade your templates

Data Elements are also extremely useful for your templates. You can duplicate your entire protocol with an empty amount for the DE elements that can be filled every time someone uses the template.

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