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Case Study: Centre for Cardiovascular Science, The University of Edinburgh
Chris Doherty, Head of Laboratory Operations
Tell us about the background to the Centre's interest in an ELN and your own role.

CVS had a new Head of Centre and one of the first changes he wished to implement was the introduction of ELNs to CVS. Prior to my being involved with RSpace one of the lab managers led on this and she looked at a number ELNs available on the market and settled on RSpace as the University supported it/running a free trial, the ease of use, no associated storage issues and data remaining the property of the user. The manager then chose a number of CVS research groups to trial the system.

I came on-board at this stage and monitored feedback from trials and fed this back to Head of Centre. When it became clear that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and users were very happy with the ease of access and quality of support, it was decided that RSpace was the right ELN for CVS.

What steps did you take to evaluate RSpace?

Once CVS had decided to use RSpace, we strongly encouraged researchers to get registered and review the system for themselves in terms of:

  • Ease of use
  • Compatibility with mobile technology
  • Quality of support
  • Ease of data retrieval
We also had one lab manager take on a local RSpace admin role to ensure all researchers were registered ASAP. Users were encouraged to contact RSpace directly regarding addressing user problems e.g. group structure and data sharing hierarchies, input of large data sets.
What barriers did you have to overcome in adoption?

The main barrier is resistance by some senior supervisors to using the system. This is related to their having limited IT skills, resistance to learning new systems and opposition to change. The time invested by RSpace in providing training in a clinic setting was very helpful as it allowed everyone to learn at their own pace – from absolute beginners who wished to have a complete run-through to more seasoned users who were struggling with a specific issue and wished to drop in for a quick fix.

We still have resistance, but the increase in sharing of data between groups and individuals, and it being referred to in meetings, is making use of RSpace the status quo. A big positive over the Summer has been accessibility to up to the minute data by researchers while abroad – PIs have found it very useful to be able to access data as it emerges while at conferences etc.

Tell us about the role that training played in the process.

Training is key, while the system is intuitive and the younger generation of users “get-it” instinctively, some supervisors require training for full implementation. Having beginner training to get people started and supervisor “buy-in” helps.

What benefits has the Centre seen from takeup of RSpace?
  • Traceability of data
  • Saves time
  • Accessibility outside of lab
  • Supervisors can access data in real-time
  • Data sharing
  • Linking SOPs/data to files
  • Can track experiments
  • Assign work to folders and include ideas etc
  • Makes data management & compliance so much easier
  • Easier to share notes on SOPs between group members
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