IDBS Blog | 4th July 2017
Data Management: Are You Kidding Yourself? (Part Two)
In almost every facet of modern life, people are absent-mindedly producing and consuming data at an ever increasing speed.
But the staggering quantity of data that is generated and utilized by an R&D organization needs careful management and thoughtful consideration. Our analysis can only be as good as the data we have to support it. So, is your R&D data as good as it could be?
In this blog series, we explore what you need to look out for when it comes to R&D data production and lab data management. In ‘Part One’ we examined why we are not always as truthful with our organizations and ourselves as we should be, and how free/cheap doesn’t always mean financially efficient in data management processes. You can read it here.
Part Two looks at the importance of visibility and searchability in data as well as the proper implementation of a data management system.
Personal transgression: covering up a mistake or misdeed
“I decided to go in another direction.”
Sometimes we all have what seems like a great idea! We tell all our friends and can’t wait to try it out and show it off. Only, it doesn’t work. After all of the excitement and talk, we don’t want people to know that it failed, and we may even tell a lie to avoid publically admitting that we were wrong.
It’s also true, however, that successful ideas often require failure. Knowing what doesn’t work is just as valuable as knowing what does. If I don’t have access to the data that failed when I have the same idea that someone has previously had, I may repeat the same mistake—costing valuable time and money. It may also prevent me, or others, from finding a successful approach by learning from the previous failed attempts. ‘Failures’ can tell me exactly how to improve my ideas in the first place!
Properly implemented data management systems offer the capability to search across records to see if people have completed similar studies. They offer the ability to run reports that compare and trend data sets over varying conditions in order to give an investigator enough information to plan ahead for next steps. If someone else had an idea that failed, wouldn’t you want to know? Likewise, if someone else could learn from your failures, wouldn’t you want to share it?
Avoidance: escape or evade
“My system works and I like it. I don’t need to change a thing!”
Just as lying is an unfortunate part of human nature, so is the avoidance of change. We like structure, routine, and familiarity. Often, we may even know there is a better option, but the idea of having to change makes us hold to pesky avoidance lies rather than face the truth. Examples of this are endless.
Slowly, we gave up hand written letters for email. We eventually transitioned from landline telephones to cell phones. Many of us even remember a time when we didn’t think a smart phone was a necessity! I think most of us can agree that we are now lost without them.
Implementing a new data management system can be like buying that first smart phone. It will require some exploration to properly navigate, but most people are surprised at the ease of both adding content and searching for it. Having access to data quickly and easily making it easier to do our jobs, while giving us more time to focus on what’s important—just like a smart phone!