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Best Practices

Assigning ID numbers

To reduce errors and inconsistencies in Sampled (formerly IBX) records, we highly recommend you adhere to the following best practices when assigning IDs for your study subjects

  • Use consistent separators. Separators are used within an ID to distinguish between site, family, and individual ID sections. The standard separator at Sampled (formerly IBX) is a hyphen "-". Use the same separator, preferably a hyphen, between all ID sections. Good: 123-10-1234 / Bad: 123.10-1234
  • Use only numerals. We have observed many instances of transcription errors when IDs contain both letters and numbers, especially when Sampled (formerly IBX) sample intake forms are handwritten. S can be mistaken for 5, I mistaken for 1, etc. For this reason, we encourage all users to use only numerals within their IDs.
  • Avoid leading zeros. Good: 123-10-1234 / Bad: 123-00010-01234
  • Use consistent IDs for unique subjects. It is very important that you use the same ind_id for subjects that you know are the same person. We have often encountered studies that use sample IDs or clone IDs in the ind_id field. This is misleading and causes confusion. Be sure that all instances for a subject use the same ind_id.

File Formats and Naming

Your AutoQC submission requires a number of different file types. When you are creating files for submission, please consider these best practices for file naming:

  • Do not include spaces or special characters (!@#$%^&*()?)
  • Include your NIMH Study ID
  • For phenotypic files, include the name or abbreviation of the clinical instrument
  • Example:
    • study999_phase1.zip
      • study999_phase1_sub.txt
      • study999_phase1_dx.txt
      • study999_phase1_id.txt
      • study999_phase1_ksads_phen.txt
      • study999_phase1_ksads_phen_dd.txt
      • study999_acknowledgement.txt

Microsoft Excel often automatically re-formats text when importing a .txt or .csv file. This can corrupt your data, turning text into dates, dropping leading and trailing zeroes, etc.

There are 2 ways to prevent automatic re-formatting in excel:

  • In a blank excel file, go to the Data tab, Get External Data, From Text. Select your .csv or .txt file, and follow the wizard to import the data as "text" rather than "General" format
  • In more recent versions of excel, you can turn off automatic formatting options:
    • https://insider.microsoft365.com/en-us/blog/control-data-conversions-in-excel-for-windows-and-mac
    • To do so, select File > Options > Data > Automatic Data Conversion, and then choose the conversion(s) that you'd like to disable.
    • Available for all users running:
      • Windows: Version 2309 (Build 16808.10000) or later
      • Mac: Version 16.77 (Build 23091003) or later