Participant Data Project

The Participant Data Project commenced in September 2015 with the aim of scoping and implementing improved support for researchers working with human participants, chiefly in the Medical and Social Sciences.

The Participant Data Project is exploring how researchers working with personal information can benefit from better data management

The Participant Data Project is exploring how researchers working with personal information can benefit from better data management

Researchers across the University need to collect, store, and manage information about participants, schedule visits and appointments, and manage ongoing communications. In some cases this also requires sharing data with researchers in other universities, and with public bodies such as the NHS.

Current IT solutions used to manage participant data are often ad hoc or based on in-house software developed within departments. In some cases researchers are using spreadsheets or other tools not considered fit for purpose, as they do not provide versioning and audit trails in the case of problems or complaints, and pose additional risks of loss of data integrity. Likewise, communications with participants and scheduling of appointments is often handled as a manual process, with postdocs and other research staff spending time dealing with routine administrative tasks that could be automated.

The principal aim of the project is to provide infrastructure that supports world-class research, enabling a faster turnaround of trial cycles and studies, better use of time spent by researchers, improved collaboration with other universities and external agencies, resulting in an increase in research output.

As always, the project will be driven by the needs of researchers, explaining how they work and what kinds of support could be implemented to make their lives easier and help them produce better research. During the scoping phase of this project we will be speaking to researchers, clinicians, administrators, security experts, and service providers to understand the workflows that govern this sort of research and identify potential solutions to common issues. Ultimately we hope to produce better guidance and support for researchers, and potentially improvements to infrastructure and services.

If you would like to speak to a member of the team about the issues that face you when working with participant data, please contact us via researchsupport@it.ox.ac.uk.

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