10 Tips for Maintaining Data Accuracy

Protect your organization from unnecessary expenses and decrease the time spent on data management with these tips for maintaining data accuracy…

Tip 1: Create a centralized database

Store and organize data in one place so that it can be easily accessed by whoever needs it. Within a lab environment, providing access to the results of research and experiments will avoid the unnecessary and costly duplication of work.

Tip 2: Capture and store all data results

Capture all measurable results from research for reference. Whether relevant to the original hypothesis or not, colleagues might be able to use by-product data for other purposes. An electronic lab notebook facilitates complete data capture. 

Tip 3: Don’t put pen to paper

Type notes to reduce mistakes. These days, most people actually type faster than they write, and it is easier to read than handwriting. According to a study, 1.5 million patients in the US are affected by medication errors resulting from illegible handwriting. 

Tip 4: Assign permissions to change data

Establish procedures for who has permission in your organization to change data. This will limit the chances of information being edited incorrectly and protect your company’s intellectual property.

Tip 5: Keep data sources in sync

Make sure that the most recent version of a file is easy to find whenever data is being updated from multiple sources at different times – especially when the information needs to be accessed while an update is in progress. With a cloud-based digital database, updates are in real-time. 

Tip 6: Standardize the data entry process

Define a structured process for employees to follow when entering data. A company-wide guide to data entry and standard operating procedures will ensure consistency. 

Tip 7: Simplify the data entry process

Restrict the number of options within a field to limit potential errors and help standardize information. With digital data entry, it is as simple as providing a drop-down list of fields, where only one is available for selection. 

Tip 8: Merge duplicate data

Streamline your database by merging duplicate files. Simply deleting duplicates can lead to the accidental loss of information. A digital database allows data to be updated to the most recent version instantly while keeping a track of changes, eradicating unnecessary duplicate records.

Tip 9: Get staff on board with your data procedures

Establish best practices for record keeping and data entry as an integral part of your employees’ job roles. If you are introducing a new system, such as an ELN, provide plenty of training and ongoing support to encourage user adoption. 

Tip 10: Audit data regularly

Proactively perform data audits on a regular basis to see what information needs to be fixed and which areas of your data entry process need improvement.  Integrating audits into your data management will help to mitigate security and compliance issues.