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Centralized database streamlines research

March 21, 2016  By Matt Jones

Dr. Amber Garber (pictured above) The Ceres database has two parts – one which manages and stores the data and a disconnected one to record data input from other devices

With important research taking place on a number of fronts, the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada is an epicenter of aquatic academia. In order to ensure the best possible usage of their research, the Huntsman created the Ceres Database with support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency – Atlantic Investment Fund, The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Aqua Bounty Canada and the Center for Aquaculture Technologies Canada.

“It’s a secure, reliable, centralized relational database,” says project lead Dr. Amber Garber. “There are searching, reporting and basic analysis features with quality control and quality assurance which allows for auditing as well.”

The database has two parts – the main application which manages and stores the data and a disconnected application to record data through devices not directly connected to the database. When PIT tagging fish, for example, researchers can scan PIT tags directly into the program on a laptop while also entering data such as weight, length, deformities and tank number. The application can be set up to calculate condition factor, to count fish as they are tagged and to automatically repeat family and tank numbers as well as automatically assigning a fish number.

“When we’re PIT tagging total weight is entered and then length,” says Dr. Garber. “It calculates the condition factor, which uses both weight and length. And so we use that normally as a check, because if someone mistypes the weight or length they’ll have a funky condition factor. If the condition factor is out of range and the box pops up, you can click on it and make the note that ‘I typed 23 instead of 2.3’ or enter an error code.”


Tracking changes with a written explanation or an error code are part of many quality assurance (QA) and quality control steps which ensure the accuracy of the database. To that end, staff at different levels also have varying levels of access as it relates to editing the database.

“The Administration role can access any part of the program,” says Dr. Garber. “The Data Manager role can create the forms in the main application that are used to record data in the disconnected application, can approve data for uploading, and can alter data once it is loaded into the main. If you’re a QA person, then you could log in that way and be allowed to assess data prior to uploading, accepting or rejecting it. A technician is able to enter data in the disconnected application, but they cannot alter data in the main application.”

The Ceres Database comprises information from all research projects occurring at the Huntsman Centre.

Matt Jones

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