Access to the latest scientific research is vital for any R&D organization, but if you don’t streamline your processes from the start you can quickly end up with information silos and dozens of individual practices that hinder effective and compliant collaboration.

As part of a recent webcast series designed to provide emerging R&D-intensive organizations with best practices, I had the pleasure of partnering with CCC’s Vice President, Corporate Solutions Lauren Tulloch to welcome leading information management experts Walter Reiher, Ph.D., Chief Information Officer of REVOLUTION Medicines, Inc., and Heather Desmarais, President of HJD Consulting LLC., for a discussion on how to streamline access to content and foster collaboration. Following are some key insights from that discussion around frequent challenges and recommended steps for achieving information management excellence from the start.

A common information management challenge in today’s biotechs is around the transition from academia and the misconceptions regarding scientific literature and other published content that often come with it.  In most academic institutions, researchers are accustomed to having broader access using their academic affiliations. When they enter a business setting, there is often a bit of culture shock when faced with article fees, verifying copyright permissions, and working from abstracts. Corporate researchers need to learn the important difference between freely browsing any article they choose and becoming more intentional in their searching and placing an order for an article.

Another key challenge is in finding a balance between supporting individual preferences of researchers, while creating consistency across the organization, as well as opportunities for collaboration. To achieve this, our experts recommend that companies look to provide flexibility to meet users where they are. Does your content workflow integrate with preferred search tools like PubMed, for example, to help lower the barriers to content?

A third challenge for emerging and often rapidly growing companies is the creation of information silos. It is critical to begin with a system that everyone adopts from the beginning to help avoid inefficiencies including:

  • Untracked, decentralized purchases across the organization that can hinder budgeting and forecasting
  • Employees saving locally to places where others cannot access that can hinder collaboration
  • Duplicate research efforts that can hinder productivity

With so many pressing priorities, where does a new company begin? Here are some simple steps a startup can take to help avoid such challenges from the very beginning:

  1. Consider an annual copyright license to complement current publisher agreements and provide a broader set of rights to maximize, reuse and collaborate with content.
  2. Educate employees from the start about intellectual property – in the same fashion that most emerging life sciences organizations are focused on creating intellectual property, employees must learn to appreciate the intellectual property of others.
    • Develop a copyright policy, publish it, provide central access to it, and reinforce it regularly to all employees.
    • Include information on copyright and content access in employee welcome emails and onboarding materials.
    • Provide a central location for easy access to information resources (i.e. SharePoint site)
    • Provide ongoing training on information resources via Lunch & Learn events, videos, intranet, etc. to help employees stay up-to-date on new features and tools, and upgrades to existing tools.
  3. Learn to recognize and eliminate bad habits and practices that do not support a compliant workflow such as employees expensing content purchases made with credit cards through prior academic affiliations.
  4. Provide a standardized, centralized tool that enables decentralized search and purchasing, and can scale as your company grows.
  5. Establish single sign-on to streamline authentication and authorization and provide employees with a simplified and efficient workflow.

Learn more about steps your organization can take towards information management excellence by viewing the full webcast recording and others from my Optimizing Culture and Information Management webcast series for emerging R&D organizations here.

You may also enjoy these related posts:

Building a Culture of Success from the Start: Focus on Management Excellence

Fostering an Inclusive Culture from the Start

Visit CCC’s solutions page for emerging life science organizations and also learn how to reduce the time-consuming article retrieval process, facilitate collaboration across teams, maximize the value of content investments and simplify copyright compliance.


Author: Joanne Kamens

Dr. Kamens received her PhD from Harvard Medical School in Genetics. She is a Senior Consultant at The Impact Seat, a consulting firm that helps organizations develop and maintain equitable and inclusive cultures that are rich in diversity. Dr. Kamens has had a varied career in academia, pharma, biotech and nonprofit. For a decade she was Executive Director of the nonprofit biotech, Addgene and was Interim Executive Director of the Bentley University Center for Women and Business. She has been advancing diversity and inclusion for decades including as founder of the Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science (MASS AWIS) and currently serves on the AWIS National Board of Directors. She consults and speaks widely on topics such as Science Careers, Culture Roadmaps for Start-ups, Implicit Bias, Management Excellence, and Making the most of Mentoring Relationships. You can find her @jkamens on Twitter or on LinkedIn.
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