Sometimes Change Starts with Research

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Recently a fellow posted the following question on various informatics groups on LinkedIn, "we want to develop web based LIMS for small companies like Pharma, Food, Cosmetic, Public testing laboratories, etc." Hmmmmm....

Research, performed formally or informally, is often the secret to producing meaningful, useful new products. Take the children's television show Blues Clues -- it was actually the result of research. So-called television experts familiar with the industry thought the show would be a flop but a documented 'formative' testing regimen found that children in the target age range experienced increased attention and retention scores when compared to similar shows. In short, the good professors behind Blues Clues could demonstrate something that went against conventional wisdom that produced a superior result.

So, if you are looking to produce something new follow the Blues Clues route, particularly in LIMS which is now quickly morphing into the intersection between Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS), Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs), Laboratory Manufacturing Execution Systems (LMES), and Business Intelligence (BI) systems. All this is transpiring while we are experiencing a web-based revolution moving toward HTML5 standards that may make our web browser interfaces not only competitive but in many cases superior to desktop counterparts.

There is a good book by Creswell called Research Design (ISBN 978-1-4129-6557-6) that can help. My recommendation is that you start with a qualitative (page 17) ethnographic approach since laboratories, industries, and scientific disciplines tend to resemble their own cultures. Ethnography in the research design book is defined as "a qualitative strategy in which the researcher studies an intact cultural group in the natural setting over a prolonged period of time by collecting primarily observational and interview data." (page 229).

I fully realize that collecting this type of data will take time. To speed this up I recommend also that you consider bringing in experts in your chosen field as scientific advisors. That means targeting areas of science and interest that have to do with their areas of expertise but this has proven to be a successful strategy in the past, namely with InnaPhase that specialized in the life sciences business prior to being consumed by Thermo Fisher Scientific years ago.

Finding funding is beyond the scope of this post, but suffice to say that being armed with some vetted research behind your core concepts may go a long way toward attracting funding. Many funding sources are going to look squarely at your team. If it is composed of professionals with proven track records coupled with advisors that have a solid background in the field you are half way there.

Finally, I would encourage you to consider starting with an existing open source system, making your changes to it, and re-releasing it to the DIY community. This will cut your development costs significantly as well as clue you into areas of interest in your target community.

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Citation: Sometimes Change Starts with Research. (2012). Retrieved Sat Jun 23 10:15:33 2018, from;iid=readMore;go=1348941837