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Website Tutorial: Requesting Resources on Betacell.org

Last revision: May 6, 2011 by Thomas Houfek & J.-P. Cartailler

Contact us with any comments, suggestions, or corrections for this tutorial.

Scope of this tutorial

Any registered member of Betacell.org can use the Resource Request System to request items related to some Resources in the BCBC Resource Collections. This tutorial explains how to make these Requests.

Overview of Betacell.org's Resource Request System

Betacell.org's Resource Request System was built to facilitate the physical exchange of reagents related to certain types of Resources from the BCBC Resource Collections. In In version 4.4 of the website (April 2011) the system was expanded to include all types of Resources, including ones with no physical, shippable items associated with them (e.g. Protocols, Functional Genomics Studies, and probably many Miscellaneous Resources). For these Resources what one requests is data.

Our aim is to encourage sharing of both tangible and intangible Resources by providing a system that helps investigators agree to mutually agreeable sharing terms. For instance:

  • A laboratory frequently requires a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) before it will transfer a reagent to another research group.
  • Investigators frequently have reason to negotiate matters related to publication, attribution, etc.

We assiduously avoid calling the Resource Request System an "ordering system." In a sense it is an ordering system. However, there is no financial accounting aspect to it. Rather, the system is built to expedite a negotiation process between researchers, and to provide a tracking system that serves both the requesters and suppliers of Resources.

Extending the Resource Request System to accomodate intangible data Resources has some consequences that demand explanation. First, there are currently two ways that you may be given access to such a Resource when a Workspace fills your Request:

  • If the Resource is a Functional Genomics Study, the Genomics team (through which such Resources are contributed to the BCBC Resource Collections) is notified by email that the requester should be given access to the study data. They will then contact the requester with instructions on how to access the Resource, typically by file transfer.
  • If the Resource is a Protocol or a Miscellaneous Resource, Betacell.org automatically and immediately grants access to documents associated with the Resource. Links to download these will appear in the Resource's Detail View for any user who has made a Resource Request that has been filled.

Also note that presently the requester is required to submit shipping and billing information for intangible data Resources. This is a slightly confusing consequence of expanding the old system to embrace Resources that do not need to be physically shipped. In the future we may eliminate the requirement; in the meantime we apologize for the confusion.

Making the Request

You may Request any Resource that meets the following qualifications:

  • You must have permission to view the Resource (permission to view its Resource Detail Page, not just its listing.) There are several ways this permission may be extended - see the tutorial Resource Access on Betacell.org.
  • The Resource must be contributed by the Workspace of a group participating in BCBC 3.0 (the third funding cycle of the Beta Cell Biology Consortium).
  • For tangible Resources the Workspace that contributed the Resource must also have defined Inventory Items related to the Resource (these are the tangibles you are actually requesting.) The Resource Request System creates Inventory Items automatically for intangible data Resources.

In the Resource lists of the various BCBC Resource Collections any requestable Resources will have a Request link, as shown in Figure A:

Figure A.
Clicking on this link does not immediately Request the Resource. Rather, it takes you to the Repositories section of the Resource Detail page. If you are not logged in you will see a message prompting you to do so, as in Figure B.

Figure B.


If you are logged in, you will see a button: , as shown in Figure C.

Figure C.


When you click this button, you are taken to a page where you compose your Request, as shown in Figure D:

Figure D.

Here you may review the Request before making it. If you decide you do not want to continue with the Request, click the button.

If you want to make the Request, you must supply a Reason for requesting this resource in the text field with that label. You must also supply shipping and billing information as shown in the form. If you have defined default shipping and billing addresses in your Betacell.org Member Profile, the form will use that information to pre-populate most of the fields in this form.

When the form is complete, click the button.

You will now have initiated a Request for the Resource. You will immediately be taken to the Pending Requests tab of your personal Resource Requests page; this will look roughly as depicted in Figure E:

Figure E.

Meanwhile, members of the contributing workspace are sent email notification of your Pending Request, and should respond by sending you any Terms they require to fill the Request. This will not happen immediately, so you need to know how to track the status of your Requests on subsequent visits to the site.

Tracking Your Requests

The Resource Request System tracks the status of all your Requests. On your Dashboard is a widget labelled Your Resource Requests, that displays a summary of the number of Requests you have made that are Pending, Unfilled, Filled, and Cancelled. This widget is shown in Figure F.

Figure F.

Specifically, Figure E illustrates a scenario where a member has made just one Request, which in the Pending State. Let us define the possible states of a Request:

  • New Requests are Pending, and they remain so until the requester and the supplier have agreed to the Terms of the Request. (Or until the supplier indicates that no terms are necessary.)
  • When the supplier indicates that the Terms are met, or that no terms are necessary, the Request goes into the Unfilled state. This indicates that the Supplier has agreed to fill the Request. They may or may not be able to do so immediately.
  • When the supplier is able to do so, they indicate that the Request is filled. This puts the Request into the Filled state.
  • If at any point either the requester or the supplier cancels the Request, the Request goes into the Cancelled state.

You (the requester) should receive email notifications:

  • Whenever a Request you have made transitions to a different state.
  • When the Supplier comes back to you with Terms.
  • Whenever the Supplier sends you a message related to your Request.

You may also actively check the status of your Requests at any time by returning to your personal Resource Requests Page. (Figure E) The easiest way to get back there is through the Your Resource Requests dashboard widget shown above. (Figure F)

This dashboard widget depicts the number of Requests you have in each state. Observe that each number is hyperlinked. Clicking on any of these will take you to the appropriate tab on your personal Resource Requests page. (Figure E)

Observe that the RQ# (the Request ID) is hyperlinked. When you click on the link you are taken to the Detail View for that Resource Request. Figure G shows a new Request in the Pending state:

Figure G.

The Detail View always contains the following elements:

  • At the top of the view is a navigation "cookie crumb" which you can follow back to the appropriate tab of your personal Requests Page (i.e. to the Pending tab if you are looking at a Pending Request.) Clicking on Resource Requests by <Your Name> always takes you to the Pending tab.
  • Immediately below the cookie crumb is the request summary, identical to what was displayed for this Request in the list on your Requests page.
  • Below the request summary is a pane with two tabs. The Contact Information tab just recapitulates the shipping and billing information that you entered, and probably does not need any further explanation. The Request Tools tab has a few elements that should be explained:
    • In the upper left hand corner of the tab are buttons for any action you may take concerning the Request in its present state. In this example, the Request has been made but the supplier has not yet responded it any way. The only actions available to the Requester in this case are and .
    • The Request agreement status is a simple report on the current status of negotiation of Terms for the Request.
    • At the bottom of the tab appears a list of all the Notifications associated with your Request. Notifications are automatically inserted here when Terms are commmunicated, when the Request goes from one state to another, and when either party sends a message.

After the supplier sends their Terms for filling the Request, you (the requester) may . The supplier will be sent a Notification of this. At this point you (the requester) are basically done.

The supplier themselves will now need to agree that their Terms are met. When they do so, the Request moves into the Unfilled state. The supplier then is responsible for indicating when the Request is Filled (this should be roughly simultaneous with any shipping that may be involved.)

You may however continue to exchange Messages concerning the Request. Both requester and supplier can do this even after a Request is Filled. (They may want to correspond regarding the results of a reagent's use, for example.)

Figure H.

What happens after your Request is filled depends on what you have requested:

  • If you requested a Protocol or a Miscellaneous Resource, you should be able to download its documents directly from its Resource Detail page on the website as soon as your Request is filled.
  • If you requested a Genomics Study, you should be contacted quickly by the Genomics Team for instructions on accessing any additional study data.
  • If you requested a reagent related to a Mouse, ES Cell, Antibody, or Adenovirus, the reagent will be shipped to you.

If you experience undue delays or difficulties with any aspect of requesting a Resource, please contact us so that we may assist you.


This concludes the tutorial Requesting Resources on Betacell.org