You have many benefits from using the OurLabBook approach to building your research platform. Some of these benefits are described below.

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Mature, Flexible, and Robust CMS

A Content Management System (CMS) is designed to make it easier to produce and manage digital content, usually for web sites or mobile devices. Drupal is one of the most mature and popular of the CMS offerings and is often used in large and sophisticated web sites because of its flexibility and relative stability. It has been quite popular among higher education institutions, high tech companies, and governmental organizations and is used for the foundation of the OurLabBook approach.

Integrated Social Networking Features

The Open Social platform has been built using the Drupal framework. The core of Open Social is released as open source and has numerous valuable social networking features like full profiles, messaging, email notifications, and groups. There is also a commercial offering of Open Social that offers more features and is used in over a thousand organizations around the world. The OurLabBook approach is to integrate the core of Open Social into every installation. This creates opportunities for more seamless collaboration and communication concerning research activities.

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Uniquely Built   for Your Particular Research

There are many good Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) for collecting research data. ELNs can often be fairly expensive, however. They also may require you to conform your data collection to their turnkey solution or they may be so generic that they are not much better than a group spreadsheet. The OurLabBook approach, on the other hand, is designed to conform more exactly to the data collection needs of a given research project. It does this through the ability to build custom content types that contain the exact field types that you may need (e.g., HTML, addresses, integers, to name only a few) and offers field types like geolocation and associated maps that are often not available in most ELNs. So, you can tailor your forms and data input to match your desired data and evolve your custom experiments according to your specific needs.

Scale to Large Numbers of Members Without Extra Cost

Oftentimes ELN vendors charge according to the number of people who are using their platform. Since the OurLabBook approach is based on a robust CMS, it can be easily scaled to thousands of users as needed. The number of users are limited only by the computer resources to manage the user data and the site management resources to manage the user needs.

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You Always Own Your Website and Data

If you choose us to develop your research platform, then all of the code for your platform is owned by you under the GNU GPL 2 license. You are free to take the code and host it on your own servers or hosting service at any time. If you want to develop modules yourself and make them part of your platform that we develop and host, then that is possible also. We will only need to go through a vetting process for your module to make sure that it is stable and secure.

You can also export the data from your research data at any time via CSV files and your uploaded files (exported together in a compressed .tar.gz or .zip file). You can then edit your exported CSV files if you like (as long as you don't modify the underlying structure) and then import them back into your research data. In other words, you get full round tripping of your data. It's just another way that you can feel good about not losing all of the hard work that you have in collecting your data. From what we can tell, this seems to be a unique advantage of our approach.

Possibility of Leveraging Local Expertise

If you are part of one of many higher educational institutions that use Drupal (71 out of the top 100 higher educational institutions do), then you may be able to leverage the expertise in your organization for Drupal maintenance and development. The same can be said for many other high tech, governmental, and other large and small organizations.

If you are associated with higher education, you may also have a graduate student who may know something about Drupal or be willing to learn. Since Drupal is open source and well documented, then this could be another avenue for developing your research platform. You could either take the approach of having us build your research platform and have your graduate student extend and maintain it, or you could have your graduate student build it from the ground up since most of the code that we use is open source and freely available.

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No Vendor Lock-in

Because Drupal is a mature and popular CMS, there are over 1100 service organizations who can help you design, build and maintain your Drupal websites. Different organizations have different strengths and emphases in their clientele. Our organization is relatively unique in emphasizing social networks combined with research projects. But you should feel comfortable in knowing that should you be dissatisfied with us for any reason, that you will have numerous alternatives for building, extending, and maintaining your Drupal based website.

Accelerate the Development of Research Platforms

The open source software movement has brought many benefits to research. It has been instrumental in creating the world wide web, free operating systems, and many research tools. We are committed to giving back most of the source code that we develop for the OurLabBook approach to the Drupal project or other appropriate communities. By supporting our endeavors, you will be supporting the acceleration of the robust OurLabBook approach for research platforms and make the software more available to other research organizations.

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