11.02 How can I use handwriting or draw sketches in LabArchives

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When considering any tool for note-taking or sketching, you’ll want to consider how it will impact search results. In LabArchives, any information that can be recognized as text (file names, file descriptions, tags, Rich text entries, headings, a text-based PDF and office documents, etc.) can be indexed. A photo, sketch, or a scanned document can be difficult to search.  It’s recommended to add additional metadata, like a description, to improve data retrieval in the future. To learn more about search in LabArchives Click Here.

Optical Character Recognition 

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software will convert printed or handwritten text into machine-readable text. As an example, OCR scanners can be used to convert handwritten notes into text that can be searched in LabArchives. Once the text has been converted, the data can be added to LabArchives as an attachment.  

Note: It’s recommended to try a variety of OCR tools to find one that works well for you. Some tools are easier to use on specific types of paper or they may require you to use tidy handwriting.  

Sketch tools within LabArchives 

In LabArchives, you can draw a simple diagram using the Sketch entry type or you can annotate an image. To learn more about the Sketch Click Here and to learn more about the image annotator Click Here.

Note: The image annotator and Sketch entry type do not support touch devices. 

On the LabArchives mobile app, you can also create a sketch. A sketch made on the mobile app is saved as an image attachment. To learn more about the mobile app, click here.

Take Photos or Scans of Handwritten Notes and Sketches 

Some groups will create sketches or take notes on paper and upload a photo or scan of their work when they are finished.  Keep in mind handwriting will be treated as an image and may be difficult to search without additional metadata added to the page.  

Note Taking or Sketch Applications 

Some groups will use a drawing application, image editing application, or a dedicated note-taking tool as part of their workflow. While using these applications, you should be able to export into a common file type (.pdf, .docx, .txt, .jpg etc.). Once you export the data from these applications, this data can be added to LabArchives as an attachment. Make sure that exports from these applications are searchable. 

Note: If you are working with sensitive data, make sure that these applications are approved by your institution.  

Voice-To-Text, Speech Recognition, or Dictation Applications 

If you have a microphone, you may be able to use some of the dictation tools built into your device, like Google voice typing, Siri, or Windows speech recognition. You can also install dedicated Voice-To-Text applications.  

This will allow you to select a certain field in LabArchives (rich text, Office document, page name etc.) and have the speech directly converted into text. Of course, you can also record an audio file and add this file to your lab notebook as an attachment.  To learn more about some of the options available for you, contact the device manufacturer or your local IT department. 

Handwriting-To-Text Software and Hardware Solutions 

On most touch-screen devices, you can select a handwriting-compatible keyboard. These handwriting keyboards will allow you to enter text using a stylus or your finger and will automatically convert the handwriting into machine-readable text. This will allow you to select a certain field in LabArchives (rich text, Office document, page name, etc.) and have the handwriting directly converted into text. 

Some researchers use simple stylus tools that work just like a mouse or your finger on a touchscreen.  There are also many “E ink” or “smartpen” hardware solutions (livescriberocketbook, Wacom, etc.). For most of these tools, you can export to a common file format (pdf, txt, word document, etc.) and upload the file to LabArchives. If the hardware works with a mobile device, you may be able to send the file to LabArchives using the share option or send the file to your LabArchives inbox. For more information on the inbox, click here 

Note: Not all handwriting to text applications work on a browser. To learn more about some of the options available for you, contact your local IT department or device manufacturer.