Every step of the research process involves the collection, management and analysis of data.
Data may include information about participants, audio or other recordings, transcriptions of these, completed survey forms, Case Report Forms (CRFs), and so on. The quality of the results is dependent on quality of the data, and so careful attention to each step in the process is needed.
Large studies will involve processes of checking data to ensure that it is reliable and complete. Piloting of the data entry processes is also worthwhile in the preparation stages of a study. Studies which have received ethics approval may sometimes be audited, at which point all of the processes for managing and storing data may be examined.
Storage of data is a significant consideration, and issues to do with confidentiality and security of storage, de-identification of data, and the length of time for which data must be held in secure conditions are part of the ethical approval for research.
The Research Data Management System (RDMS) provided by CareSearch is an online data management system for palliative care researchers, on which questionnaires, survey tools and case report forms can be created, and where data from these can then be securely stored and analysed. The RDMS is particularly valuable in multi-site research, as it allows data to be entered online from multiple sites.