Zappylab launches Protocols

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.14.43 PMA centralized location where all protocols could be described in detail and shared with the world. That is what Protocols from Zappylab (also creators of the PubChase literature search tool) is set to be. This could be an solution that researchers have been waiting for when faced with the often incomplete or incorrect protocols published in our favorite journals.

The website has gone live a few days ago, offering a simple interface to enter protocols. But Protocols is in Betra and more is to come. The launch is accompanied by a Kickstrater campaign to help get it started. Have a look!

Labfolder: a digital lab notebook

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.45.41 PMLabfolder is an online digital lab notebook. An online space where users can write, draw and assemble reports of their latest experiments, that they can then safely store in the cloud.

The digital lab notebook revolution has been announced for quite some time now. There are promises of digital notebooks accessible from anywhere that are data rich, searchable, sharable and never lost or damaged by spilled coffee.  But the path toward its full implementation in academic labs is long, partially because no alternatives really beats the old notebook and pencil when it comes to user friendliness. So in that respect, the challenges faced by Labfolder are significant.  But Labfolder proposes interesting functionalities and a nice, clean, fresh interface that may seduces more than one researcher.

The Labfolder experience start by creating a new folder (what a surprise) in your project tab. Under each folder, multiple entries can be added, corresponding to the pages of your traditional lab notebook. Within each entry, the users can create boxes containing text, images, links to files and hand-drawn (or should I say mouse drawn) sketches that can be useful to annotate images. These boxes can be easily resized or moved around and when satisfied with an arrangement, the entries can be saved and reused as templates. After the content is added, the final entries can then be save to the cloud, or downloaded as a pdf for sharing.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.15.40 PM

Labfolder is completely free for individual use and for groups up to 3 users. A cloud space of 3 GB is offered to store all files. Forming a groups with other Labfolder users enables sharing entries and templates with collaborators.

Labfolder was started by two german PhD students from the MaxPlank Institute; Simon Bungers and Florian Hauer. They where surprised how digital tools were poorly used in research and decided to add their contribution by founding Labfolder. Labfolder is an ongoing venture, and encourage users to send their comments and ideas to them (contact@labfolder.net).

Lab techniques, protocols, tips and tricks on camera with Benchfly

2013-07-26-benchflyA large number of landmark scientific studies are hard to reproduce by independent labs. The reasons are numerous, but  incomplete and imprecise protocols are often to blame. Indeed the protocols published in most journals miss essential details such as the “little tricks” that make experiments work. Over the past few years, various initiatives have been launched to address the problem, and video protocols seem to stand out as one of the solutions.  If well produced, video protocols can be captivating and help to quickly grasp protocols or techniques in detail.

Benchfly is a central location to view and share videos of laboratory protocols, tips, tricks and techniques. It hosts short videos of virtually anything that can be useful to experimental scientist in the field of biology, biochemistry and chemistry.  Anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone is invited to create videos of their own experiments to share with the world. Benchfly made it easy for anyone to add, edit and share videos through their platform. And since making scientific expertise free and accessible to all is part of Benchfly’s core values, the videos are open access with no need to sign-up to view. Recently Benchfly also went live with a mobile app for both androids and iPhones so that filming and watching the videos is easier while in lab.

Since videos have become an essential tool for marketing and public relations purposes, Benchfly can also partner with companies, to produce, host and disseminate science-based videos. On top of this, Benchfly also hosts a more social component, with a great blog with tips and stories about the struggles and joys of being a researcher. Benchfly has been around for a little while now, created in 2009 by Alan Marnett in Cambridge MA USA.