New technologies and workflow in materials science research face daunting project management hurdles to core facility operators. Increasingly complex scientific projects are being supported by larger collaborative groups and core imaging facilities. As imaging technologies improve, data files for scientific projects grow larger and more difficult to safely share. Regulation and verification complicate the task of keeping and managing these projects and the data they generate. These projects have been crying out for a simple user-friendly collaboration, visualization, and data management software package.
Accessibility and security
In the global landscape, research groups now span countries and different time zones. The large data files generated by new imaging technology can be challenging to share and lack of accessibility to data hinders these group collaborations. Often, each investigator ends up downloading and duplicating data files to store on their own systems. This can cause data corruption and loss of vital contributions, but it is also a great security risk to valuable information. An ideal solution is to have a single point of storage where all researchers can equally access the data and work on it in a collaborative manner, so each individual’s input is captured.
Traceability and reproducibility
Large imaging projects can generate massive amounts of data and communication, with many changes to information. When many users access a core facility to work on a project, it can be difficult to follow the trail of breadcrumbs back to the source after many hands have been involved. This poses a great challenge for accountability and also for regulatory compliance. If you can’t figure out who did what and where, this can create a lack of required reporting. Software that can collect all the data and communications in a single location ensures traceability. Keeping all data and communications within a single platform not only helps meet regulatory needs, it is vital to reproducibility of your workflow.
Imaging data management platforms
To fully collaborate in a secure, accessible, and traceable manner, projects need an imaging data management platform (IDMP). Instead of each user, on each instrument, in each individual lab collecting the data and trying to merge it all into some kind of cohesive data set, an IDMP does all that work for you. Not only can a good IDMP act as the single place for all the data files generated by project investigators, it can act as a single location for all communication, documentation, and imaging files.
In the past 20 years the call for free and open access to scientific data has been getting louder. In 2016, a grassroots consortium of scientists gathered to discuss principles behind data accessibility. Out of those meetings, FAIR principles were born.
These principles, or similar ones, are being adopted around the globe. They foster collaboration, communication, and accountability in research. Regulatory and funding bodies are increasingly demanding such principles form the foundation of the projects they oversee. As a result, the activities that support these principles need to be built into the budgets for the projects themselves. Athena is an all-in-one software solution designed to support compliance with these FAIR principles:
Rich metadata, such as file descriptions, is registered and indexed so both machines and humans can discover the files when looking for them.
Standard communication protocols need to be in place. Compliance with FAIR principles includes protocols to ensure that the data or metadata is accessible. As software is developing to meet FAIR principles, it needs to enable the owner of an imaging project to manage user access.
To allow full access to the data for all users, applications must be fully integrated into workflows, storage, and procedures.
All results must be able to be replicated, so a system needs to be in place to capture every step of a workflow.
A single solution for your imaging data and project management
Athena software for core imaging facilities provides a single imaging data management platform to facilitate accessibility and traceability in a secure environment. Individuals can be assigned differing levels of access by the project owner. Users may be able to manage, collaborate, or simply view the experiments depending on their role. They can also share data, metadata, and communications that are targeted at the different levels of the software, from project, experiment, workflow, right down to individual steps and files in the workflow. Athena is available 24/7 around the globe, allowing all users access at any time, no matter where they are. The package supports your projects with seamless integration into your current core facility. Data can even be defined for automatic import from participating instruments. Each package comes with on-site or remote training and support, anytime, anywhere.
Find out more at thermofisher.com/athena