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The Digitization of Records in Life Sciences Organizations

While the idea of digitizing records is nothing new, the process is often costly and time-consuming, and governments cannot afford it. This technology requires significant manpower and money to complete. The digitalization of records benefited the industry after the pandemic, which left workers without many options to migrate to the online world. As the cost of paper documents and hard-copy archives continues to grow, digitization may be the answer for these companies. Nevertheless, if you’re considering the digitization of your records, consider the following points.

Documentation and suitability

The transition from paper-based processes to digital-based solutions is accelerating in life sciences organizations. Product development teams are seeing dramatic growth in the number of digital records they create. Organizations must ensure they maintain these records in an easily accessible and readable format for regulatory compliance. Keeping these vital records in a digital format can reduce costs, increase productivity, and address regulatory requirements. The advantages of digitizing vital records go beyond addressing compliance requirements.

The integrity of a record is its unaltered state and completeness. It must be protected from unauthorized alteration and deletion. To ensure its integrity, organizations should define a policy that specifies who is authorized to make annotations and deletions. Such annotations and deletions should be traceable. Further, organizations must ensure that their records are easily retrieved and presented. Moreover, records must be linked to the context of a business transaction.

Digitalizing documents will save space in offices. Businesses can repurpose entire floors of expensive office space by digitizing case files. By reducing office space, businesses can free up thousands of square feet. Additionally, digitizing documents can make processes more secure and efficient. After all, security costs money. Documentation and suitability of digitization of records are essential to comply with regulations and internal policies. You can avoid these costs by adopting the appropriate document management system.

Besides preserving the authenticity and reliability of digital records, organizations must also ensure that the digitized records are usable, reliable, and auditable. This is why an ISO 15489-1 standard has been developed. It specifies the components, requirements, and migration procedures for digital records. It can help organizations prepare for a successful migration to a new recordkeeping platform. The best way to ensure quality and reliability is to implement an ISO 15489-1 system.

Cost

The costs of digitizing records vary. While it’s easy to assume that an outsourced provider will be cheaper than storing and copying the paper versions, the costs of digitizing records can be surprising. In the above example, the digitization of a single box of records costs approximately A$200. A multi-function device will produce ‘dumb’ scans. While this is not a big deal, the cost per box maybe.

The Cushing/Whitney Library, for example, has large collections of historical articles that can be digitized. The cost per page and item for a single article is $4.12. If you are planning to digitize a large number of records, you can use a formula to calculate the cost per item. The cost per item is based on the number of records to be digitized, the number of pages, and the number of hours to complete the job.

In addition to the actual cost of digitizing a document, the cost of indexing will also be incurred. In addition to indexing, digitizing a document will require metadata such as titles, locations, and a date. The costs will likely be quoted in cents, with $5 per field equalling $0.25 per file. The indexing data will then be provided to the client in the form of a CSV file or as a PDF output.

The cost of digitizing paper records varies greatly from project to project, but the benefits of digitization often outweigh the costs. This article outlines some of the costs of offsite storage and digitization and concludes that it is almost always cheaper to keep the paper records in commercial offsite storage. But the costs of offsite storage are not the only factors to consider. Before choosing a digitization solution, think about how much your records are worth.

Formats

Choosing the best formats for digitized records requires careful consideration of both the legal and operational objectives. A file format must meet certain requirements, including being open to inspection. The level of openness can be measured by the degree of data, appearance, and relationship loss that it tolerates. It should also be compatible with software tools for inspection. Open formats are preferred for several reasons. Here are some tips to select the best format for digitized records.

A good example of a format that supports long-term preservation is uncompressed TIFFs. This format is widely adopted in the web publishing community and is widely supported by many image editing programs. It supports both lossless and lossy compression and can be stored with embedded metadata. Although most image editing software does not support embedded metadata, it is generally the best format for long-term archival purposes. There is no need to worry about future compatibility since JPEG files can be stored on any computer that supports them.

To get started with the digitization process, an enterprise should identify which physical records exist. It may need to organize the documents based on categories, departments, and categories. Some documents may be sorted by color, importance, and date. Another important factor to consider when digitizing records is the cleanliness of the originals. To avoid losing any important documents, it is best to hire a professional records digitization vendor. These vendors offer high-capacity scanners and specialize in volumetric digitization.

In 2005, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published a report on the sustainability of digital file formats. This report considered several formats that have been recommended by authoritative sources, including the Library and Archives Canada, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and Harvard University. The document summarizes common criteria for file formats for digitized records and also lists some of their strengths and weaknesses. These recommendations are not exhaustive, but they do provide a starting point for determining which formats are best for preserving historical material.

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of digital records depends on how often they are maintained. Most removable storage media lose their integrity in a matter of fewer than 10 years, and leading software providers will stop supporting certain versions of their operating systems and application software after about ten years. For this reason, the life expectancy of digital records can be as short as 10 years, which makes their long-term preservation even more important. For this reason, it is essential to plan for media migration to ensure that your records maintain their integrity over time.

Many issues and variables impact digital preservation, and the list of risks grows each day. However, the life expectancy of digital records is not a universal issue. Many records can be disposed of after less than ten years. Even if you do not need to store your records for that long, be sure to protect your digitized files with a comprehensive backup system. And, if you do plan to preserve your records for longer, there are several ways to do it.

Indexing

In the context of a digitization campaign, the most appropriate strategy for indexing records after digitization depends on the type of index and the quality of the existing indexes. Index evaluation should be performed for each index, for a record group, or for the entire archive. While step 4 is generic, it will help you determine the priority of the indexes over the records and design the integration of selected indexes into the information system.

The process of indexing records after digitization should begin with an archival survey. The objective is to understand the context of each index. In addition, proper names should be used for indexes of people. The second step in indexing is the production of a technical plan for index integration. Once this phase is complete, the digitized records should be reassembled into a fully-searchable database. If the database is not fully searchable, indexing may be an impractical option.

The information unit of an index is a further specification of the indexation unit. In addition, chronological spans are used to determine the validity period of documentary evidence. Finally, an index reference will redirect an entry to an identifier for the record or other documentary evidence. Index references are typically alphanumeric and incremental numbers. Each index entry contains an index reference, one or more information units, and a single indexation unit.

This process is commonly referred to as the depth of indexing. The indexing criteria will vary depending on the industry and will be different from industry to industry. Personnel files would be indexed using the first and last name and employment dates, while medical records may reference insurance policy numbers and patients’ birth dates. Indexing can improve the searchability of documents. The depth of indexing depends on the type of document and the industry it belongs to.

The Digitization of Records in Life Sciences Organizations

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