Elon Computing Sciences

Making Data Input And Retrieval More Effective For The Elon University Office Of Sponsored Programs

Presentation at Elon Student Undergraduate Research Forum, Spring 2007

Maggie L. Presley (Dr. Lynn Heinrichs) Department of Computing Sciences

The purpose of this project was to improve the effectiveness of the Institutional Research Board (IRB) database used by Elon University and the Office of Sponsored Programs. Databases are intended for the input, storage, and retrieval of data with relative ease. Poor database design and implementation can make a database difficult to use. A well-designed one follows several guidelines in order to be as effective to the user as possible. Previously, the Elon University Office of Sponsored Programs was using a Microsoft Access database to track, report, and follow up on IRB studies. The main database was donated from another university. Many aspects of the table from the donating university were not appropriate for Elon, and as a result were unused, leaving the database unorganized, difficult to follow, and permitting room for error. Multiple entries could be made for the same project, and data differed based on the user. A complete redesign was required to fix current input errors, halt future input errors, and make the interface more user-friendly.

Once redesigned, the Office of Sponsored Programs received a final product of the user-friendly database filled with all current data. The redesigned database was structured to follow the standards set for database design, reduce data input error and duplication, condense data into simpler formats, streamline the reporting process for simpler report creation, improve application tracking, and allow simple data searches and transfer for form letter purposes.