Switching From Pen + Paper To Life Science Software by Tom Dolan | May 25, 2019

What are the makings of a successful research project? Good ideas, innovation, a great team working harmoniously, strong motivators and commitment throughout are critical to achieving results but data integrity cannot be overlooked.

In order to perform large or long-term studies, information “tidiness” and reliability are extremely important. It could be useful to switch from handwritten lab books to a compliant life science software to avoid data missing, samples lost, and reagents being misused…

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Nobody’s Perfect, but Data Should Be: Maintaining Data Accuracy by Stephen Ferrell | September 5, 2018

Whether you believe we are the descendants of ancient primates, the children of God or – as I do – the subservient vassals of Gozer the Gozarian, we are all human and we are all imperfect. As with anything our society values, accuracy does not come naturally to us. We may spend years cultivating our attention to detail and our pattern recognition skills, but no matter how careful we think we are, achieving true and consistent accuracy is a challenge we will continue to face until mighty Gozer returns to rain marshmallow Armageddon on our great cities.

As we conclude our ALCOA odyssey at long last, let’s consider the importance of accuracy in the lab…

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What Art and Science Have in Common: Only the Original Counts by Stephen Ferrell | August 17, 2018

When modern GMPs were first developed in the 1970’s, few peripheral industries benefited more than the manufacturers of blue pens.

Our younger readers may already be lost at this point, so for their benefit I’ll explain: most early photocopiers could only reproduce in black and white. This meant that having both a photocopy and an original document printed with black ink could be very difficult to tell apart, but using blue ink would always make it clear to the auditor which one was the original. This simple method was so reliable that some organizations began to require it. Life Hacks were a lot harder back then…

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Because You Needed it Done Yesterday: Keeping Data Contemporaneous by Stephen Ferrell | August 3, 2018

Time in the lab is a resource as precious as any instrument, test, or person. Many a fine lab technician has felt the need to find more; to time travel in a sense by recasting or fitting results into a more convenient window. I’m speaking of course about backdating.

Backdating is the original sin in a GxP environment. We are all told in our orientation not to, but it is almost assuredly the first temptation that we face. Backdating has many seemingly reasonable justifications, ‘no one will know’, ‘what’s the harm in it?’, etc. etc. Here is thing to confront: there is always harm in it. If you have backdated, one of the following things has occurred…

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Why the Pen is Not Always Mightier: Legibility in Laboratory Data by Stephen Ferrell | July 20, 2018

Have you ever been told you ‘write like a doctor’? If you have, odds are it wasn’t a compliment recognizing your superior cursive or your masterful ability to spell ‘acetaminophen’ without a spell check. It’s much more likely to have been a lament over the indecipherable scribble you’ve just jotted down. Fortunately, the art of writing with a pen, pencil, or ink-dipped quill is fast disappearing as an elective form of official data capture or communication.

Although laboratories are the very image of modernity in so many ways, they have been uncharacteristically slow in accepting the obsolescence of trusty old writing implements…

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An Admin by Any Other Name: Making Lab Data Attributable
by Stephen Ferrell | July 10, 2018

“My name is Connor, here’s my letters: C-O-N-N-O-R!”

To my four-year-old, attribution is fundamental to his daily interactions. He is often surprised and bemused when he meets other Connors and even more so when they spell their name with only one ‘n’. The importance of being unique and identifiable is something we all learn early in life, and while it may get a little less exciting as we get older, it doesn’t get any less important…

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