Our industry is driven by data. Every phase of our trials requires us to collect, monitor, analyze, and report data. While each of these steps is equally important, reporting is arguably the most impactful step. When we report data, we give them to key decision-makers and invite them to interpret the data and draw conclusions.
Is the trial being conducted correctly? Is participant enrollment on schedule? Are we protecting our participants' safety? Was the investigational product effective? Was our hypothesis confirmed? We rely on effective data reporting to answer these questions.
Unfortunately, our industry doesn't always use the best tools or practices when it comes to data reporting. If you've ever had to make sense of 50 pages of data listings or spend hours creating figures using spreadsheet software, you know what we mean. If these methods feel outdated, it's because they are. We have been using the same basic technologies to report data for the past few decades with little improvement. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives available to us and our industry is ripe for change.
Granted, some of the formats for reporting are mandated by formal regulations. We may not be able to do much about these reports, but many of the methods we use to report data are left up to us as clinical researchers. As such, we argue that clinical researchers have a responsibility to do the data justice and communicate them as clearly and effectively as possible.
What does this mean for our industry? It means looking for newer and better ways to communicate data. It means thinking carefully about how the method of reporting impacts perception and comprehension of data. It means researching novel technology tools for sharing data.
At Rho, we took these challenges to heart and created a new Center for Applied Data Visualization (ADV) to research and promote the best practices and tools for visualizing and reporting data. The ADV was founded by a team of senior biostatisticians, web programmers, and a study coordinator who have years of experience directly supporting clinical trials. This first hand experience with clinical research gave our team a unique perspective on the data reporting needs at all stages of clinical research from study design, to participant enrollment, monitoring, data collection, analysis, data exploration, to publication and reporting. Hence, the ADV marries clinical research experience with the technical skillset to create innovative, cutting-edge data visualizations in support of our research projects. Moreover, the ADV provides trainings throughout the company on graphics best practices and tool development.
In support of our projects, the ADV has developed dozens of novel graphics for both static reports and interactive web-based use. In both cases, the response from our clients and research partners has been overwhelmingly positive. Beginning this month, the ADV is expanding their focus to also provide resources external to Rho. Members of the ADV have been presenting their work and tools in public forums for years, but now we are moving toward releasing some of our tools, resources, and graphics research open source (free to use) on our new graphics sharing website: graphics.rhoworld.com. The site currently has two tools available, and additional graphics will be posted, and discussed here, on a regular basis.
Data visualization has tremendous potential to improve the way we communicate, understand, and interact with data. If you would like to learn more about Rho’s data visualization work, we would love to hear from you at: firstname.lastname@example.org