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Title: What influence would a cloud based semantic laboratory notebook have on the digitisation and management of scientific research?
Author: Kanza, Samantha
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 6929
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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Electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) have been studied by the chemistry research community over the last two decades as a step towards a paper-free laboratory; similar work has also taken place in other laboratory science domains. However, despite the many available ELN platforms, their uptake in both the academic and commercial worlds remains limited. This thesis describes an investigation into the current ELN landscape, and its relationship with the requirements of laboratory scientists. Market and literature research was conducted around available ELN offerings to characterise their commonly incorporated features. Previous studies of laboratory scientists examined note-taking and record-keeping behaviours in laboratory environments; to complement and extend this, a series of user studies were conducted as part of this thesis, drawing upon the techniques of user-centred design, ethnography, and collaboration with domain experts. These user studies, combined with the characterisation of existing ELN features, informed the requirements and design of a proposed ELN environment which aims to bridge the gap between scientists' current practice using paper lab notebooks, and the necessity of publishing their results electronically, at any stage of the experiment life cycle. The proposed ELN environment uses a three-layered approach: a notebook layer consisting of an existing cloud based notebook; a domain specific layer with the appropriate knowledge; and a semantic layer that tags and marks-up documents. A prototype of the semantic layer (Semanti-Cat) was created for this thesis, and evaluated with respect to the sociological techniques: Actor Network Theory and the Unied Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. This thesis concludes by considering the implications of this ELN environment on broader laboratory practice. The results of the user studies in this thesis have underscored laboratory scientists' attachment to paper lab notebooks; however, even though paper lab notebooks are currently unlikely to be replaced by a system of digitised experimental records, laboratory scientists are not opposed to using technology that facilitates high-level integration, management and organisation of their records. This thesis therefore identifies areas of improvement in current laboratory data management software.
Supervisor: Gibbins, Nicholas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available