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Electronic Lab Notebooks FAQ

What is LabArchives as opposed to Electronic Lab Notebooks?

Electronic Lab Notebooks is the name of the University's enterprise lab notebook service that is accessed via the My Pitt (my.pitt.edu) portal and requires a University Computing Account username and password. The service is powered by LabArchives, a leading cloud-based electronic notebook provider.

Is there a cost?

The University has negotiated an institution-wide LabArchives site license that entitles all faculty and staff accounts to Professional licenses at no cost to departments. Student accounts can access LabArchives under the Classroom edition license at no cost.

How do I log in to Electronic Lab Notebooks?

You can log in to LabArchives by clicking the Electronic Lab Notebooks link from My Pitt (my.pitt.edu). You can also log in from the main LabArchives.com web page. If you are logging in from an off-campus location, you will have to select University of Pittsburgh from the list of participating institutions.

How much storage space do I have?

There is currently no limit on the amount of storage space an individual may use with LabArchives cloud storage. However, individual file sizes can be no larger than 250 MB.

How do I create a New LabArchives Account?

If you have not used LabArchives and do not already have an account, you will need to create one the first time that you log in to the University’s Electronic Lab Notebook service. Complete the following steps:

  1. Log in to My Pitt, then click the Electronic Lab Notebooks link on the right-hand side of the page.
  2. Click I do not have a LabArchives account and need to create or activate one.
  3. Enter your University of Pittsburgh login credentials and click Create New Account.

    Note: Email aliases that you have set up will not work.

  4. Click Yes to link your LabArchives account with your University of Pittsburgh login credentials.
  5. Confirm that your name and Pitt email address are correct, then click Update.
  6. A confirmation notice will display indicating that your account information was updated. You can start using LabArchives! The next time you need to log in, just click the Electronic Lab Notebooks link on My Pitt.

Should I update the to the latest version of LabArchives on my mobile device?

You should always keep LabArchives on your mobile device up to date. The latest version is available in the iTunes store or the Google Play store.

How do I configure my mobile device to use Electronic Lab Notebooks?

To use the LabArchives mobile app for iOS or Android devices:

  1. Use your Mobile Device to search for, download, and install the free LabArchives app. You will need to do this once for each mobile device that will access LabArchives.
    Note about Downloads: The LabArchives app is available from the iTunes store or the Google Play store.
    Download LabArchives
  2. Note for Android Users: During the installation of the new version of the Mobile App, you may need to enable the permission settings that allow LabArchives Mobile App to access your Photos, Camera, and Cellular Data.
  3. Tap the LabArchives app on your mobile device to open it..
    Note for setting your initial location: Users who install and open the mobile app will be shown a setting page where they can select their location. The Default is "US and the rest of the world" but other options can be selected
    Select Your LabArchives Location
  4. Locate and tap the link for institution login. For iOS users this is Login through your institution. For Android users. this is Institutional Login.
    Institutional login for iOS users   Institutional login for Android users
    Note: The name of this link may be different for the app for your specific mobile device platform.
  5. Locate University of Pittsburgh from the list or drop-down list and tap to select it.
    Select institution name
  6. The Pitt Passport authentication window displays. Enter your University Computing Account username and password. Click Submit.
    Note: Do not enter your email address or an email alias in the Username field.
    Pitt Passport login
  7. Mobile users who have set up two "factor" authentication will need to be required to provide a second method of authentication using Duo Mobile. A Duo Mobile request will be created when as part of your authentication via Passport. You can authenticate several different ways. Send Me a Push is shown here. Other methods include Send a call or Send a Passcode. Additional information on how to download and install Duo Mobile is available on our Multifactor Authentication Web page. If you have already installed Duo Mobile take the following step (otherwise skip this step):
    1. Tap the Login Request.
      Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 1
      Note: If you are unable to tap the push notification you can locate and tap the Duo Mobile app on your mobile device.
      Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 2
    2. Tap the Request Waiting notice.
      Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 3
    3. Tap Approve.
      Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 4
  8. Locate and tap the LabArchives app on your mobile device.
    Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 5
  9. Locate and tap your Username.
    Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 6
  10. The list of folders that make up your LabArchives collection will be displayed. Tap on a folder to see its contents.
    Use Duo Mobile to access Lab Archives - screenshot 7

You can change your mobile device settings so that you can stay connected to your Electronic Lab Notebook. To make this change:

  1. Click the gear icon in the upper right-hand side of the app.
    Configure LabArchives - Screenshot 1

  2. Before clicking on the gear icon, some users may need to click on the LabArchives icon on the upper left-hand side of the window to return to the Notebooks page.
    Configure LabArchives - Screenshot 2
  3. Slide Autologin to On, then click the Lab Archives icon to return to the Notebooks page.
    Configure LabArchives - Screenshot 3

Where will my data be stored?

All lab notebook data is saved on the secure LabArchives cloud storage site, where it can be accessed from anywhere on the Internet. Data sets are tagged and dated so that older or accidentally overwritten data sets can be recovered by opening an earlier version of a notebook.

What is the maximum file size I can upload?

LabArchives cloud storage is not capable of supporting the upload of files larger than 250 megabytes (MB). If you need to reference a data set or image that is larger than 250 MB, you will have to consider using another cloud-based storage service, such as pitt.box.com, and linking the file to your LabArchives notebook.

Where do I obtain support for Electronic Lab Notebooks?

For general access and interface questions, contact the Technology Help Desk. In-depth tutorials on the LabArchives interface, quick start guides, and interactive chat support is available via the LabArchives support page.

Where training materials are available for Electronic Lab Notebooks?

A number of helpful introductory videos are available on the LabArchives Video Tutorials knowledgebase page.

Is Electronic Lab Notebooks for labs only or can individuals use it, too?

The LabArchives interface is designed as a collaborative platform to support lab research activities. However, individuals with no lab affiliation can take advantage of the data storage and tracking capabilities as well. The creation of a notebook is not dependent on an associated lab, project, or course. All you need is a University Computing Account username and password.

Will I be able to use Electronic Lab Notebooks with collaborators outside my lab or from other institutions?

Yes. Lab notebooks can be shared with other collaborators by delegating access with the User Management menu. In order to grant another individual access to a notebook, you will need to know the email address that they use to log in to LabArchives. For University users, this will be their My Pitt email address. You should familiarize yourself with the various roles that can be assigned to collaborators and what permissions those roles include. More information on roles that can be assigned is available on the LabArchives knowlegebase entry on adding users

Why should I use Electronic Lab Notebooks instead of Box, Google Drive, or a similar service?

The LabArchives interface makes retrieving previous versions of notebooks much easier than other cloud-storage platforms. LabArchives saves all previous notebook versions so it is easier to step back through recorded data transactions to track down where a problem may have occurred. This functionality is not available on other cloud storage systems that are not tailored for research. Also, it is very simple to share notebooks with other collaborators within a University area while retaining control of the original dataset.

How will I access my notebooks if the network is unavailable?

The cloud-based nature of the LabArchives data store means that lab notebook data is accessible through any Internet access mechanism, not just connection via the University network. If PittNet is unavailable, you will still be able to log in to your lab notebooks from other network access points, such as home networks, other institutions, or by using the broadband access on your smartphones or mobile device.

How long must I retain my notebooks?

Retention requirements for logged notebook data will follow any data management rules in effect for the overarching research project, organizing lab, or class. There is currently no expiration on the life of notebooks stored on the LabArchives data store. If storage space is an issue, lab notebook data can be exported either to PDF or to an "offline" mode, which is essentially HTML-based but saved somewhere outside of the LabArchives system.

If I am a researcher leaving the University, can I take my notebooks with me?

The disposition of electronic lab notebooks of research staff departing the University falls under the same Guidelines for Research Data Management as other types of research data (http://www.provost.pitt.edu/documents/RDM_Guidelines.pdf). If you are leaving the University, you will need to transfer ownership of all your notebooks to another University account for recordkeeping purposes. Departing staff can use the PDF or offline notebook export functions to create portable copies of lab notebooks, if permitted.  

How do I transfer ownership from a notebook I manage to someone else?

Notebook owners can transfer ownership by going to the Network user management menu accessible via the Notebook Settings option.

What types of data can I store in LabArchives notebooks?

LabArchives notebooks are not the proper repository for any kind of personally identifiable data and/or medical data consistent with HIPAA and FERPA standards. In addition, state and University policies may also restrict the storage of certain types of data on LabArchives. Anyone using the Electronic Lab Notebooks service needs to be cognizant of these considerations before populating notebooks with research data. Data that is considered high-risk should not be logged in LabArchives Electronic Lab Notebooks. The University's Data Classification Matrix has more information on different data types and how they should be stored electronically. The following links provide additional information about the proper use of Electronic Lab Notebooks:

Are there any things I should consider when starting to use Electronic Lab Notebooks that will make my life easier?

Students or researchers that are new to electronic lab notebooks should consult the University Library System's guide for research data management and the Health Science Library System's Data Management page before beginning to log data. Another good resource is the University of Wisconsin's guide to best notebook practices.

What should I do if my entire lab is closing down and moving to another University?

If you are part of a migration to another university, see that new LabArchives accounts are created at the new institution and then transfer data ownership to the new accounts before your University Computing Account access is terminated. If LabArchives is not the supported format at the destination institution, use the notebook export functions to create portable archives. Please refer to the Research Conduct and Compliance Office's General Procedures for Closing Laboratories for additional information about closing your lab.

Can Alumni use Electronic Lab Notebooks?

No. Per the University's licensing agreement with LabArchives, Alumni accounts are not eligible to use Electronic Lab Notebooks. Any alumni that are participating in a University research effort that requires access to LabArchives will need to talk to their affiliated department's Responsibility Center Account Administrator about creating a sponsored account that can be used to access the Electronic Lab Notebooks service.

How long can I count on the Electronic Lab Notebooks service being available?

The contract with LabArchives is the end result of a multi-year evaluation and pilot that involved several research stakeholder areas from across the University. The primary driver for the evaluation was to standardize the electronic lab notebook platform for the entire University, as several different formats were in use at the time the pilot project was initiated. The University expects that utilization of the Electronic Lab Notebooks service will increase dramatically as instructors and researchers recognize the utility and value of cloud-based notebooks. The only real threats to the long-term viability of the Electronic Lab Notebooks service are low utilization, which does not seem likely, or the purchase of LabArchives by a competitor, who may or may not decide to continue offering the service. In such a case, the University would launch a new electronic lab notebook evaluation project which would place the retention and protection of notebook data as the highest priority.