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Let's be FAIR

Look at your desktop

Now back to me.

Now back at your desktop.

Now back to ME.

Sadly, your desktop isn't me.

But if you stop saving all your precious work on your desktop, it could be FAIR like me. *

I'm not speaking of myself of course, but I’m referring to this piece of text you are looking at, right now.

You can easily find it, if you search my blog. It is accessible from everywhere. You can copy-paste and edit it, and you can reuse it anywhere you want.

Back to your desktop: See that document you checked out, and never put back in? or the attachment you opened, and you still need to figure out where to keep on the company cloud? Oh, and here is that Scan_01.PDF from the ancient service lab, and photos of your nephews….

We all do it, but when speaking of company data, we really shouldn’t.

Whatever is on your Desktop or Inbox should be treated as 100% perishable.

First, let’s hope that at least YOU know it’s there and assume you can find it. Second, let’s hope it is backed up on the cloud somehow, because otherwise, I can only say good luck to you when your Laptop suddenly dies. In any case, no one else should be able to access it, but even if they do- they wouldn’t know where to look (did I mention Scan_01.PDF is non-OCR’d?).

It doesn’t end there, because in Pharma we have a bunch of other Desktops scattered around, connected to equipment pieces that sometimes date back to Windows 95. You will find the most exotic software and data formats in those desktops, and your only way to operate on this data is by actually getting up (!!), walking to the equipment piece (!!), sometimes go through a gowning procedure (!!), and if you want to extract anything from there, you should be thankful if the software can export the file to something usable. And this is before deciding on the name of that export, which oftentimes resembles one or few iterations of the word “final”.

No wonder we call it "Data mining". Some people don’t believe me when I tell these stories, but the way life scientists and engineers treat their data can be shocking to the data and computer scientists.

Information systems today allow us to go closer to the full realization of FAIR principles for data management which are to keep data: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable, by proper usage of information technologies and metadata.

So, a minute before the content of our E-mails is transposed automatically into the company’s SQL database with a crazy AI-assisted documentation system, let’s take a minute and organize our desktops and inboxes, save all the important attachments with a meaningful name, and be slightly more FAIR with our data.

*In reference to the legendary Old Spice commercial, which is my go-to “Happy Women’s day” wink, and is probably inappropriate to link…



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