Our lab just received a sizable grant and we need to find a way to track who is working on the project and time spent on this project for reporting purposes. How would you recommend that we get started setting up an efficient tracking system.

Answer

As different granting bodies require different type of reporting – I would choose a system based two factors – the reports you’ll need to generate and long term aspects for this project – if this project is going to go beyond the scope of the current grant you might want to invest in proper research documentation tools (ELN / LIMS ) ** –
– if the agency requires only time tracking – and minimal milestone progress reports –
You can go with simple tools – such as bascamp, clarizen or even google docs.

** I don’t suggest starting to use a LIMS or an ELN just for reporting purposes – the investment is considerable – it should be a decision made by the lab leaders (PI / Lab Manger) based on how they want to see the lab run in the present and in the future – putting the digital infrastructure for proper research documentation, sample management, experiment documentation and lab logistics. The longer you postpone thinking about these issues the harder it will be to implement a solution for you lab.