Silent Mess

Whether we admit it or not, we all practice some form of hoarding. The fact is that science today generates too much data and samples to the point where it is nearly impossible to manage.

Those involved in academic research suffer even more, since the collection is almost always heterogeneous and many researchers can access it. You'll need a system, be it via software or a plain handwritten solution, to manage your data and materials. This system should allow for easy discernment between what information and items in your collection you wish to save and that which you do not want or need to keep.

Deciding what to save is something a good scientist should know how to do. Researchers must be secure enough to throw out what they are sure they won't need in the future. Not sure? I have found that following the rule, "When in doubt, throw it out" works wonderfully.

My apologies if this may sound a bit preachy - however, we constantly see researchers holding on to samples - even when they are not needed. The fear of losing something you worked hard on surmounts any logic, resulting in a loss of focus on the really important items in your research collection. All of your important “stuff” gets lost in tons of intermediate and by-products. All tubes look the same, and there is no way to discern which are really important. We have seen clients still holding on to glycerol stocks that are over 15 years old - are they still useful? We see researchers storing vectors with no sequence, no maps, and sometimes with no protocol. The material just sits there. Freezing. This is what I call a Silent Mess. Your things are in order, in place - yet in essence, you have a mess.

BioData believes research organization and management ideas should be spoken out loud and shared within the science community. We'll try to bring tips and ideas of how to organize your laboratory and collection more efficiently. We realize that sometimes the smallest tips can save a lot of time and frustration.