2.2.2 Use of template for (manual) data recording
A. Background & Definitions
In many areas of science, data are collected manually using customized templates. In the context of this discussion, manual recordings refer to collection of data and information using paper-based templates.
The purpose of this Toolbox item is to emphasize the role of these manually recorded data and information in securing data integrity and transparency. In particular, it is intended here to address the potential conflicts created by the manually recorded data in the research environment that relies exclusively on electronic storage of research data (e.g. using Electronic Laboratory Notebooks).
B. Guidance & Expectations
Prior to initiating an experiment where data and other information will be collected manually, researchers should decide how such recordings will be handled. There are essentially two main possibilities:
- Manually recorded data are stored (archived) as the raw data
- If so, generation, handling and storage of such manually recorded data and information must follow the guidance for the raw data (see section 2.3.1 Generation, recording, handling and archiving of raw data)
- Manually recorded data are transferred into an electronic form (e.g. by scanning the original records and making PDFs out of them) and it is the electronic copy that is then stored (archived) as the raw data
- Such practice is acceptable only if electronic copy meets all criteria of raw data (most importantly, such electronic copy should be created by the author of data and at the time of data generation – i.e. it is important to define and control the interval between data generation and creation of the electronic record)
PLEASE DO NOT FORGET
- To check whether the use of manual data recording templates introduces additional sources of bias (e.g., for long-term studies, recordings made in the preceding test session(s) may affect the recorded performance during the current session).
- Scientists should be aware that some electronic documents e.g. PDFs can be edited. Critical information (e.g. for IP reasons) must be handled with particular care as well as discussed and agreed with collaboration partner(s) (if applicable).
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