Welcome to my Weblog. This site is dedicated to my thoughts, views and understanding on anything that touches upon records management, archives management as well as information management in Malaysia. I believe in becoming a 'functional and meaningful' information professional, the term I refer to as person who can function in many ways possible for the betterment of this discipline. Interested parties, may reproduce or quote materials published with the condition that they are credited to Comments must be accompanied by names or pseudonyms. Anonymous postings and those containing profanities and obscenities will be rejected.

Monday, January 26, 2015

When data is not managed....

Dear all

What records is not a record is what most people are confused with. When a record is born, it is a record. After sometimes, it is not. How do we know?

Similarly, what data is not a data and how do we come to know about it?

Recently, in one of the training session I had with one of the major medical research institute in the country, I was asked to give a talk on Data Management to researchers in medical and bio-medical area. The researchers focused on conducting non lab and lab based research on the area; medical and bio-medical. Majority of them are already more than 8 years in such activity. Inevitably, they have conducted and collected many data. Indeed they have voluminous research data at their disposal.

Me: Where is your data?
Researcher: All in our personal computers.

Me: Do you keep your data?
Researcher: Yes we do keep our research data.

Me: Do you have a backup for all your data.
Researcher: Yes we do have the backup in our personal computer too.

Such was the earlier conversation I had with them. I started delivering my talk and training.

Through out the session, I started asking more questions to my audience.

Me: Let say, if I want to find out what data in your possession, how do I go about it? Do I need to meet each and everyone of you for the data?
Researcher: You must come to see us, it is in our holding. And we need to know what kind of data you need because we need to identify the requested data.

Me: Is there any specific convention by which your data is differentiated between each other? How do I know your data is not redundant or similar with your colleagues?
Researcher: You would not know unless you compare with other data residing with our colleague one by one.

Me: If you are not around, can I ask the data from your colleagues?
Researcher: No, you don't, because the data is safely kept by us.

Later, I started to give some kind of insight to them.

I said to them, if you have the data, and your data is kept in silo, you yourself is the owner and others would not be able to know what type of data you keep unless they request it from you, and at the same time your back up is in the same pc and should something happen, what do you think is the worst case scenario?

Me: Do you think your data is correctly safeguarded? Do you think this is good practice of data management? Do you think that in future, there would be possibility other researchers would be undergoing the same redundant research because you don't share your research?
Researcher: murmm...

Such a state of affair occurs in one of the leading research institution in the country. It is not in dire state, but there is possibility of redundant research, data lost, data mismanagement, data misplaced, data not found, data relevancy, slow retrieval of data, wrong decision making due to outdated or non integrated data.....these are among the possibility of failure data management. More so of total data breakdown due to disaster or system breakdown, or data corrupt and of course financial lost due to data lost and mismanagement.

Therefore, proper research data management is very much needed that complies with proper record keeping practices. Understanding the research data management and implementing research data management framework in data management is critical for business and organizational continuity.....

In the end, a need to understand, analyze, evaluate, select, categorize, use, and preserve what data is required for current and future use or activity is critical to the continuity of business and organizational operation. This avoids the need for redundant efforts of doing things again and again in the context of research activities. More accurate findings and decision making could be derived from there and further research would make possible new findings rather than arriving to inaccurate conclusion.

What type and category of data we keep and what need to be selected and disposed as well as preserved of is indeed critical in research and development that would spur growth and development. Failure which, data access, data archiving, data usage, data re-purpose, data reuse and data preservation would not be useful at all.