Study on Good Programming Practices in Health and Life Sciences

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Sponsored by the Steering Board for Good Programming Practices in Health and Life Sciences (GPP Board)

The GPP board believes that it would be useful to understand the prevalence and usefulness of GPP across the health and life sciences industries. The GPP Board has been conducting a study to assess the state of programming practices and we would love to have your participation. The study consists of two modules; a registration and a SAS code review and will focus on a basic list of widely agreed upon good SAS programming practices. An outline of the questions asked is given below and initial results from those responding in late 2012 are given here.

Initial results for study on good programming practices

  • Range of respondents: Pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, CROs and consultancies.
  • Proportion of respondents with a GPP guidance document 70%
  • Proportion of respondents for which GPP document mandatory 56% (80% of those with a guidance document).

File:GPP Survey Results-30AUG2013.pdf

Overview of Study questions

  • Use of standard header
  • Descriptive comments in each section of the program
  • Consistent use of appropriate spacing between statements and sections
  • Consistent use of appropriate indentation on each line
  • Consistently placing only one statement per line
  • Breaking lines in a neat and logical way
  • Consistently ending steps with run and quit where appropriate
  • Consistently explicitly referencing input dataset in each step or procedure
  • Program is logically organized
  • Standard naming convention for temporary datasets
  • Standard naming convention for variables in temporary datasets
  • Standard naming convention for formats
  • Standard naming convention for macros
  • Explicitly code character to numeric and numeric to character conversions
  • Explicitly code to handle missing data
  • No overwriting temporary datasets within a program
  • Check log for errors and warnings
  • Clean-up work area after each program when running interactively
  • Clean-up work area before each program when running interactively

The registration will establish a platform from which we can launch additional modules to collect data on areas of interest based on input from study participants. The results of the study will be kept strictly confidential but will be presented in summary form at conferences, on discussion boards, and the GPP Board wiki on the PhUSE website. We look forward to opening a robust dialogue on good programming practices in health and life sciences so please join us on this exciting initiative.

To register for the Study on Good Programming Practices in Health and Life Sciences, please go to the url below: