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Medical & health Thing 2: Issues in research data management


Research data is critical to solving the big questions of our time. So what are some of the issues we face in managing research data?

Considerations in data management

Research data is for everyone. Governments and Universities all around Australia and the world are now encouraging researchers to better manage their data so others can use it.

Research data might be critical to solving the big questions of our time, but so much data are being lost or poorly managed.

  1. Take just a minute and browse over some ways Queensland Government Data is being used by businesses, families, travellers, farmers.
  2. This 4.40mins cartoon put together by the New York University Health Sciences Library, is about what happens when a researcher hasn't managed their data (at all). What could possibly go wrong?!
  3. As you watch the cartoon jot down the data management mistakes which interest or appall you.
  4. Now, scan through the dot points in the 'Consider the following' section of the University of the Sunshine Coast's LibGuide which provides advice for researchers on how to manage their data.

Consider how just ONE of the data disasters depicted in the cartoon could have been avoided.

How do you manage “Big Data”?

'Big Data' is a term we're hearing with increasing frequency. Data management for Big Data brings much complexity - citing dynamic data, software, high volume computing, storage costs, transfer of petabytes of data, preservation, provenance, and more.

  1. Genomics is an area where dramatically increasing amounts of data are being created each year. Watch this video Genomics and the human health sector (2:34mins) about how genomics data can lead to accurate, timely and effective solutions in healthcare.
  2. Read this short article about Australia’s leading role in integrating genomics into healthcare.

“Genomics is a four-headed beast; considering the computational demands across the lifecycle of a dataset - acquisition, storage, distribution, and analysis - genomics is either on par with or the most demanding of the Big Data domains.” Stephens ZD, Lee SY, Faghri  F, Campbell  RH,  Zhai C, Efron MJ, et al. (2015) Big Data: Astronomical or Genomical? PLoS Biol 13(7): e1002195. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002195

  1. Read this post and presentation titled: "Big Data: The 5Vs Everyone Must Know”. This article uses 5V's: volume, variety, velocity, veracity and value as a concept for how big data can be managed more successfully.

Consider whether the concept of 5Vs is useful to support better management and reuse of genomics 'big data'.

From analog to digital with eLab Notebooks

Laboratory Notebooks are used by researchers to formally record their lab based research activities. As research has become increasingly digital and collaborative the utility of traditional hard copy Lab Notebooks has been challenged. Not surprisingly then, eLab Notebooks (ELN) have emerged as an alternative.

Effective data management for constantly updated data, such as that within ELNs, is a real challenge for projects who wish to publish their data during the project.

  1. Read this short definition of ELNs;
  2. Then read the article International team of scientists open sources search for malaria cure about how an international team of scientists and citizen scientists are using open source ELNs to speed up a cure for malaria. You can access their open ELNs. Click on on Matthew Todd's ELN to see what it's in it.

Consider a data management issue and possible solutions, where data is generated, stored and shared via an open ELN.

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