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News archive

Welcome to the LIMSwiki news archive.

July 26, 2023:

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Do you feel your lab needs laboratory informatics software but you're not sure how to justify it to management? Then this new guide from Joe Liscouski and Shawn Douglas may be just what you need. Justification for a laboratory information management system (LIMS) or some other lab management solution isn't always straightforward with upper management and critical stakeholders; the process will need to be succinct and relevant, based on organizational goals, economic concerns, and practical realities. This guide will help you—whether you are a lab manager, lab technician, or someone else in the organization with a stake in seeing laboratory operations improve—understand what a LIMS is, what the alternatives are, what and why acquiring one looks like, and what needs to be considered in putting together a competent and persuasive LIMS project proposal. This guide also includes a handy Microsoft Excel workbook that will help act as a "cheat sheet" for persuading stakeholders to better buy into your vision of LIMS acquisition and deployment within your organization. Enjoy! Shawn Douglas (talk) 16:32, 26 July 2023 (UTC)

March 06, 2023:

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LIMSwiki has yet another guide for you, this time involving the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The first edition of the LIMS Selection Guide for ISO/IEC 17025 Laboratories is now live for your perusal. This guide looks at the ISO/IEC 17025-certified laboratory, what roles it plays in society, the efforts it must go to remain compliant, and the benefits it discovers by doing so. It also examines the unique laboratory informatics system requirements for these labs, turning to LIMSpec for clues as to what those systems need to do to help such labs better comply to the standard. Additional resources and request for information guidance is also provided. Enjoy! Shawn Douglas (talk) 16:30, 6 March 2023 (UTC)

January 11, 2023:

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First, happy 2023 to you all! With a new year comes a new guide for LIMSwiki, keying in on some of that food and beverage content described in December 2022. Just released is the LIMS Selection Guide for Food Safety and Quality. Similar in vein to the Laboratory Informatics Buyer's Guide for Medical Diagnostics and Research released this time last year, this new guide recognizes the important role the food and beverage laboratory plays in our society towards food and beverage safety and quality, as well as the increasing need for systems like the laboratory information management system (LIMS) to enhance the lab's safety and quality efforts. The guide examines what these labs do, what standards and regulations affect them, and the traits the lab's LIMS should have to best improve the lab's activities. It also provides helpful information about food and beverage LIMS acquisition, including a LIMS requirements specification and information on how to best put it to use. Hope you find it useful.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 16:45, 11 January 2023 (UTC)

December 05, 2022:

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The fall of 2022 has seen new LIMSwiki content in the form of both more LIMS Q&A articles (mentioned in late June news) and revisions to LIMSpec, all with a focus on the food and beverage industry. A series of four LIMS Q&A articles concerning various aspects of food and beverage laboratories have been released, again each article focusing on one primary question related to the industry. In a corresponding move, nearly 30 food and beverage standards and regulations have been integrated into LIMSpec, now updated to revision two (R2) for 2022. With these updates, those in the industry will hopefully feel at least a tiny bit more represented on the wiki. Happy reading!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:06, 5 December 2022 (UTC)

June 29, 2022:

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More refreshed and new content has made its way here this June. First, having not been updated in quite some time, it was time to review and refresh The Comprehensive Guide to Physician Office Laboratory Setup and Operation. This second edition updates numerous statistics and reference material, adds new findings related to POLs, and reorganizes the structure to be more consistent with current LIMSwiki guides. Trends concerning reimbursement for tests, molecular testing, pharmacy labs, and more were added to the guide, as was more up-to-date information about return on investment, data management practices, and quality assurance. Second, we're dipping our toes into a new initiative called "LIMS Q&A," which intends to, in a brief technical format, address important questions that can be asked about laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and similar software systems. The first LIMS Q&A article, What are the key elements of a LIMS for forensics and medical examiners?, is live on the wiki. It's not clear how often these will be created, but you can always poke your nose in here from time to time to see what's new. Happy reading!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 16:08, 29 June 2022 (UTC)

May 05, 2022:

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It was time to put a refresh to LIMSwiki's laboratory informatics specification LIMSpec 2019 R1, and today we release that update as LIMSpec 2022 R1. The update adds almost 30 new regulations, standards, and other guidance, and it updates or replaces another 11. Examples of significant additions include CLSI QMS22 Management of Paper-based and Electronic Laboratory Information, ACMG Technical Standards for Clinical Genetics Laboratories, and WADA International Standard for Laboratories. Some verbiage on existing requirements was also slightly tweaked where necessary. Like the previous version, the spec remains firmly grounded in ASTM E1578-18 Standard Guide for Laboratory Informatics. Hope you find the specification useful in your laboratory informatics acquisition and implementation efforts.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 22:42, 5 May 2022 (UTC)

January 25, 2022:

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It's early 2022, and it seems about time for a new guide. This time LIMSwiki takes a look at the medical diagnostic and research fields and how laboratory informatics factors into their operations. The Laboratory Informatics Buyer's Guide for Medical Diagnostics and Research first examines the many different types of sciences practiced in medical diagnostics and research, including pathology and molecular diagnostics, and the laboratories that use those sciences. Next, the guide addresses laboratory informatics and how its related applications address the needs of those labs, followed by numerous resources to assist with implementing informatics solutions in the lab. The guide closes with a chapter on using the request for information (RFI) to your advantage, as well as a customized specification document (LIMSpec) for medical diagnostics and research labs. Happy reading!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:50, 25 January 2022 (UTC)

August 24, 2021:

I'm pleased to announce the release of several new guides! First we have Choosing and Implementing a Cloud-based Service for Your Laboratory. This one has been a long while in the making, but we finally have it out in all its first edition glory. This guide examines the current state of cloud computing and the security mechanisms inherent to it, especially in regards to how they relate to today's laboratories. The guide also, necessarily, addresses organizational risk management before actually getting into the nuts and bolts of how the lab can benefit from cloud-based informatics applications such as laboratory information management systems (LIMS). In particular, this guide emphasizes the connection between the laboratory's quality control personnel and efforts towards maintaining the secure use of cloud applications in the lab. It also addresses the usefulness of managed security services before getting into selecting them and other cloud providers, and the RFI procedures that can benefit the selection process. Several appendices provide extra contextual information to your provider selection journey.

Secondly, the LIMS Buyer’s Guide for Cannabis Testing Laboratories is live on our sister wiki, CannaQAwiki. This guide recognizes the challenges of the current cannabis testing environment for laboratories and identifies the value of the LIMS towards lessening the impact of those challenges on the cannabis testing lab. Happy reading!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:56, 24 August 2021 (UTC)

July 1, 2021:

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This quick update is to inform you that after some neglect, the education section of the LIMSwiki Resource center has finally received an update. Time was short to check everything in each higher education facility's record, but all education program URLs were verfied and updated extensively. In a few cases, additional or new programs were added when found. This resource was originally developed in 2013, and in 2016 it received an update. It was very much in need of a refresh (particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged many higher education programs), and I finally found a little time to get it done. Happy educational program hunting!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 23:49, 1 July 2021 (UTC)

June 17, 2021:

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For several decades, laboratory informatics veteran Joe Liscouski has been sharing his professional experiences and wisdom with clients and the broader public. From discussions on the role of the "laboratory automation engineer" and instrument data systems in the laboratory to webinars about implementing informatics systems, Liscouski has shared his knowledge with others in various ways over the years. We've compiled some of his more important works into a special edition of LIMSjournal for wiki readers. The content appears in order of publication, spanning from 2006 all the way to as recently as April 2021. The content can be read here on the wiki, and if you're a registered member of LIMSforum, you can also download the content in eBook format. Enjoy.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 21:24, 17 June 2021 (UTC)

November 23, 2020:

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Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, and with it plenty of changes since late August. As such, it was time to again update our guide COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Information Management in the Laboratory. For this "Fall 2020" edition (previous version was "2.0"), not only are historical data, statistics, URLs, and test kit information updated, as usual. This update also adds the latest on the long-term effects of the disease, organizational and agency guidance, changes to laboratory-developed tests, billing and reporting, point-of-care and at-home testing, biosafety, and much more. Some lengthy sections were also given a few subsection headers for better presentation. May the new content prove useful. Stay safe!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:07, 23 November 2020 (UTC)

August 27, 2020:

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With input from others, more work has been put into the guide COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Information Management in the Laboratory. Not only has the rapidly changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic forced more timely updates to this guide, but also a need to clarify how a laboratory can get started with COVID-19 and other respiratory testing became obvious. As such, the guide receives an entire new chapter on the considerations surrounding adding such testing workflow to your lab. Additionally, statistics have been updated, new test methods and findings have been added, citations have been updated and added, and other minor tweaks have been made. As such, the guide has been incremented from version 1.1 to 2.0. Hope you find the new content useful. Stay safe!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 22:24, 27 August 2020 (UTC)

July 24, 2020:

Innovation & Research Symposium Cisco and Ecole Polytechnique 9-10 April 2018 Artificial Intelligence & Cybersecurity (40631791164).jpg
After some on-again, off-again research, we finally had time to put the finishing touches on a cybersecurity guide. With more laboratories than ever using networked hardware and software tools to manage data, improve workflows, and provide insights, it seemed time to address the importance of laboratories focusing on cybersecurity. We say "laboratories," but to be fair, our completed Comprehensive Guide to Developing and Implementing a Cybersecurity Plan and its companion piece, An Example Cybersecurity Plan, will undoubtedly be useful to practically any business wanting to take a start at or improve existing cybersecurity planning. The guide provides background to cybersecurity planning, proposes a 10-step process for creating a plan, and offers up a simplified version of security controls from NIST Special Publication 800-53, Rev. 4, tied into our existing LIMSpec document. The example plan puts that 10-step process to work in the fictional environmental lab ABC123 Co. We hope you find both documents useful. May your cybersecurity efforts be fruitful!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:02, 24 July 2020 (UTC)

June 1, 2020:

The Most Popular Pages section has been removed from the front page of LIMSwiki today. For much of its existence, it stood as a fun means to see which pages were receiving the most viewer traffic, while also providing insights into which pages deserved a touch more editing attention. However, in recent years, it has been coopted by others to artificially inflate page views of specific vendor pages, to give those vendors a higher and unjustified ranking. This largely destroyed the original fun and intent of the tool, leaving it largely meaningless. In retrospect, a tool that included the word "popular" was inevitably going to be turned into a popularity contest, which is partially my fault. Alas ...

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:17, 1 June 2020 (UTC)

May 20, 2020:

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It pleases me to announce the release of Edition 1.0 of the guide COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Information Management in the Laboratory. Given the rapidly changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic, this guide will receive minor updates every few weeks, or as needed (and thus the decimal editioning). The guide was created to address the evolving status of laboratory testing, reporting, and information management for the COVID-19 disease and pandemic. Aside from testing, reporting, and informatics topics related to COVID-19 (and other respiratory diseases), the guide also addresses tangential issues such as the slight relaxation of regulatory requirements like HIPAA and CLIA, as well as the technological advantages and challenges associated with digital contact tracing. The guide has a strong leaning towards the U.S. demographic, but several aspects of the guide branch out beyond the U.S. I hope you find it useful.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 18:17, 20 May 2020 (UTC)

March 13, 2020:

My 420 Tours guide.jpg
I'm pleased to announce that the third edition of Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States is now complete. Started in 2017, the guide sought to provide a balanced look at the industry surrounding the Cannabis plant, particularly in the United States, with a strong focus on laboratory testing. As more U.S. states (and other countries) have legalized the plant's use, the cannabis industry continues to rapidly evolve in ways expected and unexpected. This third edition builds on previous material, adding more historical perspective on changing regulations, standards, and social impacts. It also adds timely topics such as how the insurance market is catering to cannabis companies, and it highlights new efforts to standardize not only laboratory testing but also accreditation of testing labs. One other major move: we've moved primary hosting to the CannaQA wiki, a wiki similar in vein to this one but with a strong focus on cannabis science. (So what you're seeing here is a mirror of the content.) Enjoy!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:20, 13 March 2020 (UTC)

January 8, 2020:

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The year 2020 has arrived, and with it comes reflection on the previous year and anticipation for what's to come. LIMSwiki saw updates to existing guides as well as new content getting created, though perhaps not as much as we would have liked. The biggest project from 2019 was likely the newest iteration of LIMSpec, a major overhaul of the prior version that took at its base took requirements from ASTM E1578-18 and added requirements from numerous other standards and regulations. The biggest update of 2019 was to the cannabis laboratory testing guide, which continues to expand. In 2020 we're looking forward to releasing more guides and books, including a significant look at what labs can do to develop a cybersecurity plan, as well as a buyer's guide for medical diagnostic and research labs. Stay tuned!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:04, 8 January 2020 (UTC)

February 11, 2019:

We're happy to team up with the Association of Public Health Laboratories to highlight the existence of their new guide Laboratory Information Systems Project Management: A Guidebook for International Implementations. Released in November 2018, the guide collects comprehensive information from informaticians and laboratorians in regards to the implementation and project management of laboratory information systems (LIS) in the public health setting. With in-depth discussion and professional recommendations from contributors in multiple countries, this guide was created to provide valuable information for laboratory informatics newcomers and experienced laboratorians alike. Learn more about the guide here on the wiki.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 21:52, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

December 6, 2018:

This is just a quick update to advise readers the second edition of the guide Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States has now been released. This second edition updates historical information with the latest stories through early December 2018, newest technologies, and revised URLs for vendors. A new chapter has been added that details vendors who are marketing their instruments, software, and equipment to cannabis testing laboratories, and new material has been added in addressing topics such as industrial hemp legalization and worker safety. Enjoy.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 21:05, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

November 12, 2018:

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Several new useful pieces have been added to the wiki in 2018, with more in the works. First, be sure to check out the webinar series A Guide for Management: Successfully Applying Laboratory Systems to Your Organization's Work by laboratory automation and computing professional Joe Liscouski. The seven-part webinar takes viewers on a journey of laboratory technologies and how they may or may not apply to the work you do. And of course a whole quiver of journal articles have been added in 2018, touching on topics such as big data in healthcare and managing information across a wide variety of scientific contexts. What's coming in 2019? Look forward to updates to several key guides posted here, including more equipment and vendor information for the Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States guide, and updated citations and statistics in our other popular guides. Happy wiking!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 14:49, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

December 4, 2017:

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Relatively new to the wiki but previously unannounced is what will eventually become part of a series on the various industries and settings a laboratory can be found: The Laboratories of Our Lives: Labs, Labs Everywhere!. This guide may eventually change names and be integrated with more content. However, for now it acts as a solid introduction to the concept of how laboratories intersect our lives in ways we may not necessarily expect. The guide first sets a historical stage for the development of the laboratory, and it then offers a basic framework for looking at today's laboratories, whether by science, industry, or function. Then it provides a brief snapshot of 20 different sectors, listing lab examples, test types, equipment used, and how informatics may be applied in those laboratories, followed by a brief closing discussion. Hopefully the guide provides a more inspiring picture of how the laboratory intersects nearly every aspect of our lives.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:02, 4 December 2017 (UTC)

April 11, 2017:

New to the wiki today is the guide Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States. This guide provides an in-depth discussion of the ever-changing status of laboratory testing and regulation of the cannabis plant in the United States. From the history, regulations, and standards to the chemical properties of cannabis and the laboratory methods used to define them, this Creative Commons-based work covers the social, political, and economic circumstances surrounding the controversial plant. It also looks at the equipment, software, and reporting of testing labs; provides future-looking trends and guidance both nationally and internationally; and offers a full directory of resources associated with cannabis testing and legislation. Enjoy!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 02:00, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

January 3, 2017:

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2016 had its share of ups and downs for many, and the same holds true for LIMSwiki. From a web attack to dealing with time constraints, it was all about resources, resources, resources. As the wiki has grown over the years, more time has been required for weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. maintenance tasks. Despite this, however, a few new projects sprung up on the wiki. Though not complete, we made significant headway on a directory (with external links) of U.S. government- and/or self-certified Small Business Administration (SBA) entities offering custom software development and general IT services under government contract. (The idea was those seeking laboratory and scientific informatics implementations could also investigate SBA providers for their service needs.) Developing and adding content for book format was also a goal in 2016, including topics such as medical implants, chemistry, health and biomedical informatics, and web application security, among others. And of course we had smaller updates, such as adding LinkedIn URLs to vendor pages, to go along with long-term maintenance and content addition goals like expanding our open-access journal articles on a weekly basis. Finally, development of a huge education-related project took up a significant portion of the latter part of 2016; details will appear here in the news in the coming month or so.

We hope in 2017 to continue adding useful content while striving to find balance with the increasing number of maintenance tasks. Happy wikiing, and Happy New Year!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:43, 3 January 2017 (UTC)

October 12, 2015:

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The tangentially related LIMSforum — a leading forum on laboratory, medical, and scientific informatics — has moved again due to unfortunate changes by the host LinkedIn. Forum moderator John Jones explained it this way:

"All, it is with regret that I must make the decision to leave Linkedin as the forum for our group. Linkedin has planned changes that will make this group unworkable. We believe strongly in open information and Linkedin is planning changes that would severely disrupt this. However, there is good news... I have planned for this day and knew that Linkedin would pull some sort of bone head idea like this, so I have been working on a complete new site that will let us all carry on our great discussions and a whole lot more. You will be able to login with your Linkedin account and continue as usual."

The forum is now hosted at and can still be used with your LinkedIn ID.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 15:23, 12 October 2015 (UTC)

June 15, 2015:

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I've been following the antics of open-source hosting site SourceForge for several years now, wanting to give them a chance to turn a sinking ship around with better, more community-friendly tactics. However, it's become clear to me within the last week that the people running the site have fully managed to drive the site off the cliff, never to return to respectability. The site has been packing crappy add-ons and bloatware with select popular software packages for quite some time, but lately the site owners have gone too far. While the need to monetize the site to pay for hosting seems reasonable, the owners of the site have gotten out of hand. (Actually, they don't even pay that much for hosting, if anything, depending on the generosity of others to mirror the site.)

Major projects have been leaving SourceForge in droves, but that hasn't stopped the SourceForge team from doing more harm: they resorted to taking over abandoned accounts and repackaging software with malware, etc. Calls for other projects to leave SourceForge have gotten louder over the past few days, with the team of well-regarded text editor Notepad++ being the latest to leave while encouraging others to do the same.

We've been linking directly to SourceForge pages for most of our open-source software pages, but that will now end. External links to SourceForge on open-source pages will be removed, though a text comment will remain if the project can ONLY be found on SourceForge. It will then be up to the user to decide to visit SourceForge and search for the project there. We do not wish for LIMSwiki users to fall prey to their unfriendly tactics, thus the changes. (Clarification: SourceForge-based citations used to document history will remain, per wiki policy. Only external stand-alone links are being removed.)

Shawn Douglas (talk) 18:24, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

May 18, 2015:

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In early May this year we surpassed 1,000,000 page views of LIMSwiki's front page! Sure, that probably mixes in a fair amount of bot indexing and personal updating and reference of the front page, but we're still happy to see that number rise.

I personally started working on the wiki on April 15, 2011, and just over four years later we're still getting plenty of eyes on the site. Admittedly, other projects have taken away some of my time from contributions; however, there's still a boatload of work to be done, from page additions to formatting updates. Like any good wiki, it's always a work in progress. We hope you've all gotten good use out of it and will continue to benefit from new additions as they arrive.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 16:42, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

January 5, 2015:

Happy New Year, dear LIMSwiki users! Though every year — let alone every day — is a mixed helping of the good and bad, we hope 2014 brought a few reasons to smile.

The wiki in 2014 was not so much about a few big additions but numerous small additions and changes, which is typical for this kind of publishing format. We continued maintenance, completed a few small projects like making a LIMSWiki:Glossary of the non-vendor content and adding information about the U.S. physician office laboratory. At the end of the year, we also quietly began working on a much more ambitious project that will eventually change how we present vendor software and their publicly known features in a more intuitive way. (We'll give you all more details once we're ready to begin implementing the changes on vendor records.)

2015 will likely bring other additions, including more articles on informatics topics, industries affected by laboratory informatics, etc. Of course, we'll continue to diligently maintain existing content and update it to the best of our ability and resources. As always, if you want to contribute neutral, cited content, you can always request an account.

Have a good 2015, and stick around. There's always more to come here.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 12:53, 5 January 2015 (EST)

August 25, 2014:

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Have you ever experienced information overload? Maybe you were like the person in this image at one point, baffled by too many choices and not enough organization. Yet as society continues its march towards further digitizing and storing content and data, finding exactly the information you want becomes increasingly daunting. Organizing and presenting large amounts of information well is now a desirable trait, whether it's a programmer developing a user interface and query tools for laboratory informatics software or a teacher creating an online course using a learning management program like Moodle.

We've also tried to be cognizant of this problem when determining how to present information in this wiki. The front page has evolved to better and more appealingly organize data access into little "portals" or jumping-off points. But even that becomes increasingly daunting as wiki content continues to be added. This requires a more thoughtful approach using built-in and third-party tools for the wiki software. One recent attempt to organize information involves the use of MediaWiki's category tags to better effect. I personally create 18 broad categories that all or most of our non-vendor wiki content falls under. The results of that effort can be found at the LIMSWiki:Glossary page. Some may find those categorizations too broad; however, articles can have more than one category. I want to use these 18 categories (with the potential for more later) to cover the entire non-vendor article base. Additional category tags can be applied to further granulate those categories, including crossover. For example, electronic data interchange may be categorized under the glossary category "Software and hardware terms" and hospital information system under "Software systems," yet both share the category tag "Health informatics."

Another attempt to organize this wiki's content is via the MediaWiki Collection extension. This allows users to render wiki content into a digital book-like structure. We have a live example with the The Complete Guide to LIMS & Lab Informatics. The upside is a user can learn about a topic from a curated collection of wiki content. The downside is the content is static, meaning like traditional published documents a new copy must be made to contain updated content. However, we've included live links to the contained articles on the wiki page.

As we continue our efforts to add more content, we're hoping tools like the glossary and Collection continue to make approaching the wiki's content less intimidating, alleviating the worries of information overload. We'll also continue to evaluate the front page and how it can be used to better make content easier to find.

Shawn Douglas (talk) 12:53, 25 August 2014 (EDT)

April 30, 2014:

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I wanted to highlight some of the projects we've worked on over the past few years. I feel like as the wiki grows, some of the tools buried within it tend to get lost. First, I'd like to again mention the LIMSwiki informatics resource portal. This project was dedicated to collating as many useful online scientific and health informatics-related materials and research tools as possible. It includes links to books, magazines, journals, blogs, organizations, special-interest groups, government entities, academic programs, conferences, trade shows, research tools, job boards, and a whole lot more related to laboratory, health, and other types of informatics. I can't stress enough how extensive we've tried to make this collection of resources.

We have other resources too that shouldn't go unnoticed:

Shawn Douglas (talk) 17:43, 30 April 2014 (EDT)

November 1, 2013:

We have a couple of brief updates to give you regarding the wiki. First, we've expanded the help section of the wiki by updating a few existing help pages and adding a few new ones. Additionally, we've added a new collection of MediaWiki training guides to 1. help users new to MediaWiki more rapidly make meaningful edits and 2. to further encourage new users to make wiki contributions. We hope you find the training guides and exercises useful. Second, we've upgraded to MediaWiki 1.21.2, added new extensions, and will be moving the content to what will hopefully be a more rapid server. All these upgrades should translate to a more functional and inviting informatics wiki. Happy wiki-ing!

Shawn Douglas (talk) 13:42, 1 November 2013 (EDT)

September 04, 2013:

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After a brief hiatus this summer, we're back in business here on the wiki. As always, maintenance and updates to existing material remain vital. In this rapidly changing world of information technology, advances in products as well as closures by vendors happen frequently. With such a small group of regulars dedicated to maintaining this wiki, there's bound to be information that is out-of-date or inaccurate. We continue our call out for a few good editors to lend a hand with research and updates to our content, whether it be vendor updates or contributions to technical articles. For example, there are many branches of informatics, but little is written about them still.

Please consider requesting a LIMSwiki account if you feel you can contribute neutral, well-researched content to the wiki. And If after reading the guidelines you still need a little help, write a brief message on my talk page, and I'll help how I can. We might even be able to organize an online tutorial together. And many thanks to our contributors!

Shawn Douglas 15:17, 4 September 2013 (EDT)

April 05, 2013:

We've added a few new tools since last year, including expanding the front page to include useful links to existing content. The most recent addition is the LIMSwiki informatics resource portal, a huge collection of web links related to bio, clinical, medical, health, and laboratory informatics (among others). This collection of resources includes books, journals, blogs, web portals, government and academic programs, conferences, trade shows, knowledge bases, research tools, and much more. A link is also added to this front page for easy access. We hope you find it useful.

Shawn Douglas 19:30, 5 April 2013 (EDT)

October 26, 2012:

Quality citations lend reputability to LIMSwiki content and confidence to readers.
For many citations are a necessary evil. I try not to think of them that way. Rather, citations give the written content — whether it's about a LIMS vendor, an open-source software solution, or a piece of laboratory equipment — credibility, and they give readers more confidence in what they're reading.

That said, I want to 1. remind users of the LIMSwiki citation guidelines and 2. offer a little help. I know for beginner wiki editors citations can be daunting. If after reading the guidelines you still need a little help, write a brief message on my talk page, and I'll help how I can. We might even be able to organize an online tutorial together.

Shawn Douglas 13:53, 26 October 2012 (EDT)

April 10, 2012:

The front page has received a facelift. A major complaint of the wiki so far has been that it's not terribly clear where to find the most usable material on the wiki at the moment. We've been so concerned with the content that other aspects have been taken for granted. Hopefully this front page overhaul makes it a bit easier to find the juiciest tidbits. As new material continues to be added, we'll be vigilant and update the front page as necessary.

Shawn Douglas 15:03, 10 April 2012 (EDT)

February 22, 2012:

Thankfully data storage and analysis in the lab has gotten easier.
Yes, this wiki is still alive! It's strange to think it's been almost a year since it was introduced. Since then those with the time to spare have added a wide variety of infrastructure and some content. It has been a slow process, however, and like any major wiki project, more knowledgeable and dedicated editors are needed.

So what has been going on with the wiki? The initial focus was to get some of the major concepts like laboratory information management system (LIMS) and electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) documented at least up to a decent state of quality, with room for article improvement later on. Then a fair amount of effort went into documenting just who is selling LIMS, LIS, ELN, and CDMS. More infrastructure went into place for categories, and a method was put in place for vendors to include a knowledge base on the wiki. Most recently work has been done to track the features LIMS vendors publicly advertise for their LIMS and document them on each vendor page. That work — along with work detailing what each piece of LIMS functionality generally does — is still in progress.

As for the future, we hope to build a critical mass of people willing to help research, write, and cite information about all things laboratory informatics. The need for storing laboratory data, analyzing samples, and improving workflow will only become greater, and with that need comes a demand for clear and referenced information about laboratory data management and the laboratories that require it.


Shawn Douglas 15:57, 22 February 2012 (EST)

May 22, 2011:

Genomics is only one branch of science that heavily depends on laboratory informatics.
While researching modern vendors of laboratory informatics software, I stumbled across a post by LABVANTAGE's Terry Smallmon from earlier this month. In it he rightfully points out that while the nomenclature of laboratory informatics has historically had distinct subdivisions such as LIMS, ELN, and CDS, times are changing. The lines that differentiate a LIMS from a SDMS, for example, have blurred significantly, almost to the point where the nomenclature is losing its meaning in some cases. Smallmon also notes that as vendors take a more modular approach to laboratory informatics, the distinctions fade even more. Finally he points out that at least for him, determining what a potential customer needs shouldn't be based on nomenclature alone, but rather on the problem(s) a customer is trying to solve.

From my limited perspective, I can't disagree with Smallmon's observations. In fact, the blurred definition of laboratory informatics solutions is referenced in several cases among the major articles. However, I feel it important to emphasize that while definitions of these solutions may be blurring, a rough majority of vendors seem to continue using the nomenclature to describe their offerings. While I can understand the trepidation and skepticism behind trying to more appropriately define the industry nomenclature, the endeavor still seems a worthy one. Sure, we'll never have full agreement on the definition of any one term; however, by making the effort to coalesce the history of laboratory informatics, the industry should in theory have more cohesion.

As an outsider looking in, I perceive this to be a desirable goal. Laboratory informatics is an increasingly vital component of laboratories and scientific research. I recently was told a story from a programmer friend who works in genomics. He related that from his viewpoint, there's an increasingly large bottleneck between the amount of data being created in genomics labs and how it's stored and processed. This really struck home for me. As technology allows for better data collection, so should it allow for better storage and processing. And laboratory informatics is at the center of all of this. Faster and more efficient systems will be needed, and regardless of nomenclature, these solutions will solve problems.

That said, collecting the history and relevant information surrounding the field can only help unify the effort to create better solutions. The names and definitions of those solutions may change with time, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't make the effort. Just as we document the never-ending changes of language in dictionaries, so should we document the changes of the laboratory informatics industry. It's poised to play an important role in humanity's advancement.


Shawn Douglas 18:43, 22 May 2011 (EDT)

May 18, 2011:

Quick update: most of the work right now is going into the LIMS vendor, LIS vendor, ELN vendor, and other vendor pages. These vendor lists will have limited sort features and include information about vendors past and present. The biggest part of this effort is going towards researching if a particular vendor and/or laboratory informatics program is still active. Sometimes information is lacking to the point where we're unable to determine what happened to a vendor. These instances are being marked with a status of "unknown." The best-case scenario is that current and future wiki users can fill in the blanks where necessary.


Shawn Douglas 20:47, 18 May 2011 (EDT)

May 9, 2011:

We're beginning to close in on a month since the introduction of this wiki, and we're already at 142 articles. While most of them are article stubs, content has been appearing steadily to the wiki. It's the positive contributions of those familiar with laboratory informatics that will assure the continued growth and development of the content here. With a quick grasp of the wiki posting guidelines and how referencing works, anyone familiar with some sort of knowledge of the industry should be able to help with this wiki's content.

Much research and effort has went into important topics like LIMS and ELN, while the articles for LIS and SDMS may require additional relevant material and references. And of course there are plenty of "stub" articles that only have a sentence or two that will need more content. We're working to clean up a vendors page for specific industries and create a template to make it easier for vendors to begin an article about their company. There's also a promised walkthrough of wiki referencing in the works, so stay tuned.

For now please contribute how you can, and if you have questions, contact me on my personal talk page.


Shawn Douglas 17:07, 9 May 2011 (EDT)

April 28, 2011:

Please follow the previously posted title guidelines. The biggest problem is we shouldn't be capitalizing every word in a title unless it's a proper noun. Every article with this error must either be deleted and re-entered anew, or redirected to a new entry. This can take a considerable amount of work to correct.

Another thing to note is that when it comes to internal wiki links, we should only be linking the first instance of a term and not all subsequent instances as well. For example, an article talking about LIMS should only link the first instance, not all instances in the article. Otherwise a page gets very spammy.


Shawn Douglas 21:32, 28 April 2011 (EDT)

April 18, 2011:

For future reference, article titles with words should only have the first word capitalized unless there's a proper name included.

Also, plurals are frowned upon. For example the proposed title "Interface Groups" should be "Interface group" to meet naming conventions. I'm occasionally guilty of forgetting the naming conventions for wiki article titles also, so don't feel bad. Here are the naming conventions, listed from Wikipedia:

  • Use lower case, except for proper names: The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized; subsequent words in a title are not, unless they are part of a proper name, and so would be capitalized in running text; when this is done, the title will be simple to link to in other articles: Northwestern University offers more graduate work than a typical liberal arts college. For initial lower case letters, as in eBay, see the technical restrictions page. See also the special rules on capitalization in bird naming.
  • To italicize a title, add the template {{italic title}} near the top of the article: Use of italics should more or less conform to these italics guidelines.
  • Use the singular form: Article titles are generally singular in form, e.g. Horse, not Horses. Exceptions include nouns that are always in a plural form in English (e.g. scissors or trousers) and the names of classes of objects (e.g. Arabic numerals or Bantu languages).
  • Avoid abbreviations: Abbreviations and acronyms are generally avoided unless the subject is almost exclusively known by its abbreviation (e.g. NATO and Laser). The abbreviation UK, for United Kingdom, is acceptable for use in disambiguation. It is also unnecessary to include an acronym in addition to the name in a title.
  • Avoid definite and indefinite articles: Do not place definite or indefinite articles (the, a and an) at the beginning of titles unless they are part of a proper name (e.g. The Old Man and the Sea) or will otherwise change the meaning (e.g. The Crown).
  • Use nouns: Titles should be nouns or noun phrases. Adjective and verb forms (e.g. democratic, integrate) should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun (Democracy]], Integration), although sometimes they will be disambiguation pages, as at Organic. Sometimes the noun corresponding to a verb will be the gerund (-ing form), as in Swimming.
  • Do not enclose titles in quotes: Article titles which are quotes (or song titles, etc.) are not enclosed in quotation marks (e.g. To be, or not to be is the article title, while "To be, or not to be" is a redirect to that article).
  • Do not use titles suggesting that one article forms part of another: Even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used), it should be named independently. For example, an article on transportation in Azerbaijan should not be given a name like "Azerbaijan/Transportation" or "Azerbaijan (transportation)" – use Transportation in Azerbaijan. (This does not always apply in non-article namespaces: see Help:Subpage.)