Today’s research labs have access to more cutting-edge tools than ever before. It’s no surprise that STEM fields would benefit from ever-greater technological advances. So what is involved in developing an effective research management system for a 21st-century smart lab?
Each lab has to determine what tools would help them the most, and what would not be worth the cost and effort of implementation. This depends a lot on the sort of work the laboratory is doing, the size of their workforce, and the amount of data, reagents, or samples they are working with.
Developing a Research Management System
For many labs, the key elements of a research management system is the implementation of an electronic laboratory notebook. This sort of application allows researchers to record their data in an accurate and compliant manner, and share it with others in their lab, or even with researchers in other labs with whom they are collaborating. Such a system makes it very easy for a lab manager to keep tabs on the progress of all ongoing research projects.
Speaking of, many laboratories are also finding it useful to implement some sort of project management system. Whether they use one purpose-built for scientific labs, or one of the many general purpose systems on the market today, these platforms can be useful for planning projects, assigning tasks, and tracking progress. Such tools are especially useful when working remotely, as it keeps everyone up-to-date on what they should be doing and what their colleagues are working on.
For those laboratories which use specialized equipment, calibration software can be an important part of a research management system as well. Knowing that your tools are properly calibrated is a key part of ensuring that your research data is accurate.
Inventory management is another important element of research management. A good inventory management system means that research is never delayed because the lab has run out of an important reagent, or a researcher can’t find the sample they need to analyze.
Benefits of Good Research Management
The benefits of developing a good research management system are clear. Laboratories which are well-organized are more efficient and save time and money while completing their research. Good management techniques and tools can make a lab manager’s job easier, as well as creating a more enjoyable working environment for the researchers themselves. Things like knowing exactly what you should be working on, where exactly the reagents you need are, and that your equipment is operating within the tolerance are all books for a busy researcher.
Research laboratories will continue to benefit from improved technology. Aside from the management tools mentioned in this article, there are also a lot of great tools for automation, which also allow a lab to be more productive and efficient.
While not every lab will adopt every technology, increasingly, research labs are looking to see what tech they can implement in order to be at the cutting-edge of development, as well as being able to attract and retain top talent. The future is looking bright for researchers in all fields.