November 30, 2011  |  Announcements  |  By  |  1 Comment

Clear the Clutter: Organize Your Experiment Inbox

You probably don’t intend your experiment inbox to be a frenzied mess of experiments resembling your lab bench after a long night at the flow cytometer. Luckily, we have provided you with a number of tools that give you the power to efficiently manage your experiment data. In this post, we’ll highlight some of these methods of organizing and filtering your experiments. Consider this a supplement to our previous post on Future-Proofing Your Data!

Public experiments and Archived experiments are flagged with "P" or "A," respectively.

The Experiment Inbox is the first page on which you land when logging into Cytobank. By default, you will see “All Experiments,” including public experiments (denoted with a ‘P’), experiments you uploaded, experiments shared with you, and your archived experiments (marked with an ‘A’). You can change your default inbox view on your Profile page (click the Profile link at top of the experiment inbox, and then click “Edit”), for example if you wanted to display only “My Experiments” every time you log in.

Experiment Filters

Experiment filters are an easy way to quickly narrow your inbox contents. If at any time you want to display a certain category of experiments that is different from your current view (for example, “My Experiments” only), simply click on that filter name in the blue “Experiment Filters” box. You can think of experiment filters like folders that contain only certain categories of experiments, and clicking on the filter name pulls up only those experiments. Mouse over the info card (the little “i”) in the upper right of this box to learn what each of the filters displays. (Note that we recently updated how these filters work.)

Inbox search box

Maybe you’re a power user, and even when you narrow your inbox to display only “My Experiments,” the list is still too long to scroll through manually. Well, there are several tools to help you quickly hone in on the experiment you seek! If you happen to remember any part of the experiment name, entering it into the “Search” box at the top of the inbox will further narrow the list of experiments to only those containing that search phrase. If you want to glance through your experiments by alphabetical experiment name, date modified, primary researcher or other such experiment details, just click the column heading and your experiments will be ordered based on the information in that heading (e.g., in order by date last modified). If you don’t tend to remember the details of experiment descriptors, then “Labels” may be for you.

Labels

Labels allow you to tag experiments based on a commonality among them – for example, you could label some experiments as “Human Experiments” and others as “Mouse Experiments.” You might already be familiar with this concept if you use Gmail. When you apply labels to experiments, the new label appears next to the experiment name and in the list of Labels on the left side of the inbox page. Clicking on a label name allows you to narrow down the experiments displayed in the inbox to ones possessing this label. You can also use the search box to search for experiments containing a certain label. You can add labels to experiments at any time, but we suggest using them from the beginning to avoid frustration when hunting for experiments down the road! Learn more about how to create and apply labels on our documentation site.

Projects

If you’re already familiar with Projects, Labels might sound conceptually familiar. That’s because you can also group experiments by creating and assigning experiments to a Project (and then clicking on the Project name to display only those experiments). The difference is that Projects allow you to specify other Cytobank users who can have access to those experiments and to specify their access level permissions. You can read more about this in our previous blog post on Projects.

Archive old experiments

Several users requested the ability to archive experiments they no longer frequently access, to clear the clutter out of their inbox while still ensuring their data would be around for future access. We heard your requests! You can now find an “Archive” button at the top of the inbox. Simply check the checkbox next to the experiments you wish to archive, and then click the “Archive” button. This will eliminate these experiments from the “My Experiments” view, and you can pull them up at any time by clicking the “Archived Experiments” filter.

Top Experiment Variables and Top Channels

Finally, you can use the Top Experiment Variables and Top Channels to display experiments based on experiment-specific parameters. The Top Experiment Variables section groups your experiments by the most commonly used experiment variable tags. In this section, you’ll see a list of your most commonly used Conditions, Timepoints, Doses, Individuals, and Sample Types, and you can click on these parameters to show only those experiments in your inbox. The Top Channels section likewise displays your most commonly used channel annotations. For example, maybe you have 50 experiments using pERK1/2; you can display only those experiments by clicking on the pERK1/2 link. Remember to future-proof your experiments by annotating your samples as you collect data on the flow cytometer! This will help automate the experiment variable tagging and channel labeling process on Cytobank and help you make use of these Inbox tools.

Save yourself time down the road when you need to revisit data or prepare presentations and publications – get a jump start on labeling and organizing your experiments now!

– Angela