As a research lab, biobank or pharmaceutical organisation your colleagues, partners, suppliers and donors are essential to your success. Without your facilities, equipment, technology, infrastructure and resources you would be unable to carry out your valuable research. And without your peers you would not be able to share new approaches, resources, successes – and just as importantly, failures. All of which help you to get where you need to quicker. You should not underestimate the importance of collaboration in scientific research in all its guises. But what can you do to help make it happen and can your software systems help?
Improve your visibility
For people to work with you, they first of all need to know about you and what you can offer. You need to become visible.
To quote the author A.A. Milne,
“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
There are a number of ways in which you can increase your visibility. As a Biobank offering biological samples you can register your Biobank with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) or BBMRI-ERIC. UKCRC has an excellent Tissue Directory of Biobanks that researchers can browse to find which Biobank has biological samples they need.
You could become accredited by an industry approved body such as the Health Research Authority. Being accredited by the Health Research Authority (HRA) helps with ethics approval and avoids duplication.
You could also join an industry association, such as ISBER that encourages collaboration and enables the sharing of best practices.
And don’t forget to get out and meet people. There are many different specialist events that take place throughout the year. Attending, or even presenting, at events helps to raise your profile and increase your network of contacts.
Make it easy for people to work with you
If you want researchers, from industry or academia, to use your biological samples in your Biobank, do you have a simple, searchable cloud-based portal of available samples that they can use to make a request? Researchers will want to search your ‘available for loan’ samples using profile information such as donor gender, age, lifestyle factors, disease and disease stage. If you ask them to enter search details such as the pathologists name or the study which they may not know, they will go elsewhere to find the samples they need. An external portal such as Achiever Medical’s Researcher portal enables approved researchers to securely search through your available sample inventory, make a request for those samples and track the request process.
You could give your external or internal collaborators secure, restricted access to the study they are working on. Nobody likes to re-key or update data from handwritten notes – it is time-consuming and duplicates work. Some sample management software systems enable you to add these collaborators to your studies. You give them a role so they can carry out selected tasks. This means you don’t have to spend time re-entering data. And they only see the information they need to carry out their tasks so your sensitive data remains protected.
Get organised to strengthen your collaboration in scientific research
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help you keep track of all your interactions with your customers and partners. Sample management software with in-built CRM enables you to track your service provision, see where you source most of your samples and check their quality, assess who is making the most requests for your samples and track couriers and their service.
And increasing emphasis is being placed on patient-centric solutions and treatments. This could include allowing donors and patients to update their own information such as consent. Or even see how you are using their samples.
A final thought on the importance of collaboration in scientific research
Scientific research relies on strong collaboration – sharing of knowledge, ideas and resources. Software systems play an important role in helping you securely manage and share information. They can help you quickly and securely upload your latest data to the UKCRC Tissue Directory so researchers can find you or enable your collaborators to securely view and update their data. So, when you are thinking about collaboration in your scientific research consider how you can make it easier for people to find you, work with you and to continue working with you.