Smart Laboratory (Smart Lab)
A smart lab represents a holistic approach to data management in chemistry with seamless data flows. What does this mean? It means that all steps within a researcher's workflow across the research data lifecycle are interconnected in a digital way. The key difference to a Laboratory Management System (LIMS) is that the Smart Lab's main focus is the realisation of the FAIR data principles. For example, a researcher plans and documents their experiment in an electronic lab notebook (ELN). Any experimental data from devices such as spectrometers are then directly ingested by the ELN via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
The ELN then ideally assigns all the necessary metadata automatically and appropriately for a corresponding workflow and converts proprietary data formats to open data formats. The ELN structures the (meta)data and experimental descriptions in a meaningful and sustainable way which is both human- and machine-readable (e.g., via the use of machine-readable chemical structures. When the researcher chooses to publish or archive their data, it is then ingested seamlessly by a data repository or archive without much further work as the ELN has already appropriately prepared the dataset to meet a repository’s or archive’s requirements.
In this section, key components of the smart lab will be introduced to you.