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International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP) Website, Database and System Design, Development, Deployment, and Maintenance

Client

National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH)

Challenge

NOVA Research Company was awarded a multidisciplinary task order contract to provide evaluation, management study, database, information technology, web systems, meetings, and science writing support. One assigned task was the International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP) web-based system implementation and communication campaign. A previous web-based system was to be completely redesigned, enhanced, and implemented, with requirements input from ICRP international partners. The new ICRP system would permit partners to conduct their own online queries and reports, including graphical presentations of research trends, and implement extensive search/retrieval capabilities. NOVA also was asked to collaborate with partners to develop a communication plan and promotion materials to recruit additional cancer research funding organizations worldwide to join the Partnership. The web-based system was to have both a public face with no funding information provided, only project numbers/descriptions, and a partner-only face providing all available information, including research funding standardized to U.S. dollars, creating an incentive for organizations to join the Partnership.

NOVA Approach

The NOVA team worked closely with NCI and systems-knowledgeable ICRP partner representatives to develop system requirements and prototype web pages. The NOVA team also developed a detailed data dictionary to define standard data input from partners so that cancer research coding would be consistent throughout the ICRP portfolio. NOVA then developed a prototype web-based database and system and conducted usability testing with partner representatives. Concurrently, NOVA staff developed data import procedures and routines to perform data cleaning and validation before data were imported to the production database. NOVA also developed conversion routines and algorithms to convert partner currencies to U.S. dollars, convert partner spellings to U.S. English, and adjust partner project funding periods to calendar year for data harmonization. NOVA designed download procedures so partners could download their own portfolios in standardized, harmonized datasets with all applied cancer research coding. NOVA further enhanced the web-based system, including mapping capabilities, so that partners could conduct selected searches (e.g., where breast cancer research is being conducted) and geographically map search results.

Results

  • Partners submitted data directly from their own systems, and the ICRP NOVA team was responsible for making data consistent, identifying missing and possibly incorrect data (e.g., projects with out-of-range dates, incorrect funding amounts, incorrect cancer research codes), converting data to standardized formats (e.g., organization names and city and state names with initial caps), and harmonizing data for aggregation across partners for common cancer research types and codes. The team developed a user’s manual and standardized data dictionary and provided one-on-one technical assistance to partners.
  • The NOVA team developed training materials for partners to use specifically with their sub-organizations.
  • NOVA developed funding conversion algorithms and programs to convert foreign currencies to U.S. dollars, based on historical conversion rates averaged over the project performance years.
  • Funding performance year conversion programs were developed by NOVA to convert all funding periods from award performance year to calendar year to harmonize funding periods for data aggregation across partners and for research trends reporting.
  • NOVA developed “identify and redefine” routines to convert principal investigator names, institutional names, and geographical place names (e.g., city) from misspelled or upper-case format to correct spellings and initial capitalization to standardize information so that queries and reports would identify duplicate information as well as find all requested information.