1. Basics of Data Collection

In the context of an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN), a key feature is the ability to collect and organize data. The MyLabBook approach uses WordPress as the basis for the ELN. To accommodate the need for data collection in WordPress, we usually need to use some form of Custom Post Types (CPT). A CPT gives the researcher the ability to have different types of fields to collect and store the data. Examples of different field types can be numbers, rich text, datetime, images, geo-locations, or website links. CPTs are widely used in WordPress for eCommerce (as shown in the video below) and should be applicable for data gathering for many research scenarios as well.

There are numerous plugins that provide the ability to create CPTs or you can program CPTs yourself. We tried many of these approaches for use in the ESRM project (which is the genesis of the MyLabBook approach). We ended up being able to simplify our ELN by using the Directories Pro plugin for collecting, managing, and displaying all of our data. This is a commercial plugin, but has a reasonable price considering all of its functionality. We are not affiliated with this vendor and gain no benefit from anyone buying it. However, in the interest of simplicity and because of our familiarity with it we are initially focusing in the MyLabBook Knowledge Base on how to use the Directories Pro plugin for an ELN.

There are other WordPress plugins that have been built for more specialized needs in chemistry, physics, and math. We also plan to cover those later as we gain experience with them.