PAASP and the Interdisciplinary Neurobehavioral Core (INBC) at the University of Heidelberg aim to establish a quality framework for Core Facilities (CF). One task within this project was a status quo analysis amongst different CFs in respect to quality practices and aspects that could be improved when interacting with CF users. More than 250 facilities across Europe and the US participated by filling out an online survey. The results were now published in eLife:
The survey revealed different practices between “full service” and “self-service” CFs. This seems to be obvious, since a facility being in full control of all processes has more power to implement and maintain specific practices whereas a facility mainly providing equipment to users faces several challenges. One of these issues is a potential lack of communication with the users throughout the experimental research chain. For example, the interaction between users and CF staff may be very close when designing and performing experiments but many CF are not aware when and how generated data were stored or published. This is critical as the survey revealed that CF staff believes that they could actually improve the quality of publications, if they were involved at this stage as well.
Another challenge faced by the “self-service” CFs seems to be the clear assignment of who is actually responsible for the research data obtained. This is important since it will define who will ensure data traceability and archiving of data sets for long term storage.
Overall, the survey showed that CF are very much dedicated to research data quality and want to improve the research process at every stage that is in their power. It seems that the communication process at the interface between the user/research unit and the CF is one important aspect that could be improved. The Q-CoFa project has been initiated to address this issue and working solutions as well as recommendations generated by Q-CoFa will be presented in the first half of 2021.