Lurking in the Lab: Analysis of Data on Molecular Biology Laboratory Instruments
Library and Information Science
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AbstractOBJECTIVE Experimental data files found on molecular biology laboratory instruments were examined in order to: (1) gain insight into current data management practices, and (2) evaluate possible curation and preservation challenges with this type of data. METHODS A faculty member granted me access to several instruments in her molecular biology teaching lab. Files and metadata on the hard drives were captured using Xplorer2 file management software. Data file formats were sorted and analyzed with Xplorer2 and Microsoft Excel, and formats were categorized as proprietary or open. Informal discussions with the faculty member and research staff during the course of the work also informed the findings. RESULTS Files in both proprietary and open formats were found on the instruments' hard drives. 62% of the experimental data files were in proprietary formats. Image files in various formats accounted for the most prevalent types of data found. Faculty and research staff mentioned several challenges in managing this data, including inconsistent practices in data storage locations and file naming conventions. They noted that students found working with and sharing experimental data frustrating at times, largely due to proprietary format issues. CONCLUSIONS This study found lack of a consistent approach to data management on laboratory instruments. Prevalence of proprietary file formats is a concern with this type of data. Students express frustration in working with this data now, and files in these proprietary formats may well pose curation and preservation challenges in the future.
Permanent Link to this Itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14038/28587
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