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Pitfalls and paths to success in interdisciplinary scientific database research

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1 Author(s)
Carlis, J.V. ; Comput. Sci. & Eng. Dept., Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis, MN, USA

The challenges of interdisciplinary research are often alluded to but seldom talked about directly. Focusing on interdisciplinary research conducted by biologists and computer scientists, my intent in this article is to present for your consideration thoughts emerging out of my experiences with the hope that you can avoid pitfalls and choose paths that lead to success. Ten real pitfalls in interdisciplinary research are described in the form of painful questions, and some possible paths around them suggested. The first seven are largely about data, while the remaining three are about people. Successfully managing a flood of data with a DBMS leads biologists to perform lots of analyses. But that leads to them being overwhelmed by too many results. Biologists and computer scientists could be mismatched in several ways, each of which causes frustration. However, I have found that we have much in common and really are not isolated islands, or two cultures. As I step back and extract what I have learned, my main conclusion is this: while researchers face formidable scientific and computational tasks, the truly hard part is communicating.

Published in:

Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 6 )