This week I’ve been thinking about some of the verbiage that we use to describe how we work with SEND. I’m worried that sometimes this may be misleading, misused or misunderstood.

An obvious example that springs to my mind is the use of the word ‘dataset’. The correct use of this term in the context of SEND is to describe a single xpt file of data. However, the word is often misused to describe the entire SEND package, which itself could contain 20 or 30 datasets, plus the define.xml and nonclinical study data reviewer’s guide.

Another word which causes me some discomfort in the context of SEND, is ‘converting’ as in ‘converting the study data to SEND’. I must admit that I try to avoid this and instead I try to use the phrase ‘representing the study data in SEND’.  The data are not converted. They are the same data whether they are shown on a PDF table in the appendices of study report, or if they are shown in a SEND xpt file. These are just 2 different representations of the same data. To me the most accurate description would be ‘to render data in SEND’, however this is not a phrase I’ve heard anyone else ever use.

I am fully aware that I’m likely being overly fussy here. While I strive for a level of accuracy in how I describe the way we work with SEND, I understand that language evolves, and I am a strong believer in the idea that language is correct by usage. So, I accept that most people understand and are comfortable with the phrase ‘converting data to SEND’. And so, from time to time I find myself using it too.

This week was one of those times as I’ve largely been focused on discussing the comprehensive range of services we are offering regarding SEND. Like other organizations that offer services around SEND, our mainstay has always been our ability to ‘convert data to SEND’. That term has become a useful shorthand to describe our main service. So, despite my reservations with the term, I’ve found myself using it quite a lot this week with the various industry presentations I have been involved with.

In case you are interested in watching one of those recent presentations, you can check it out here:

So, yes, spending a week talking about the services we offer has got me questioning the vocabulary we use to describe the work.

‘till next time


Published by Marc Ellison

Self-confessed SEND nerd who loves geek-ing out about everything to do with SEND. Active CDISC volunteer and member of the CDISC SEND extended leadership team. Director of SEND solutions at Instem responsible for all our industry leading SEND products and services.