Understand how information is organized

The GenoFAB database is organized in a hierarchical structure

The GenoFAB database is called the catalog. It is organized in a hierarchal structure that makes it easy to navigate. 

Catalog types

Types are classes of objects that can be described with the same kind of data. For example, supplies, instruments, and cell culture media require different data. Supplies may have a lot number and an expiration date whereas instruments will have a serial number and calibration date. Cell culture media have a shelf life, a base, and selection agents. 

GenoFAB makes it possible to define subtypes corresponding to a subset of a larger category that requires some additional data.  For example, chemicals are a type of supplies that require recording specific information like CAS number, hazard class, or storage requirements. 

Catalog entries

Entries are objects within a catalog type. For example "10 ml serological pipettes" are objects of the type "Supplies". A precision balance is an object of the type "Instrument".

Data associated with catalog entries correspond to the data common to all repetitions of this entry. For example, this would include the vendor and product reference of a supply or the preparation instructions as well as the shelf life of a media preparation.

Catalog items

A catalog item is an instance or occurrence of a catalog entry. You can also think of it as a repetition. For example, an occurrence of the supply "LB Powder" is an order whereas the occurrence of the "LB Media" supply will be a "preparation". 

Data associated with catalog items are specific of that particular entry occurrence. It could be the lot number or expiration date of a supply or the number of cells harvested from a cell culture. 

Benefits of this organization

This approach helps standardize laboratory operations. For example, if you have a particular type of serological pipettes used in your lab, the next time someone needs to place an order, they will know exactly what to order. If that was not the case, then your lab may end up using different types of pipettes from different vendors that would introduce unnecessary variability in your processes. 

This data organization saves time and improves reproducibility.