Giving and getting references is still one of the biggest issues I see when working with potential resources and customers in Laboratory Informatics. With this in-mind, I’d dedicated my last two newsletter issues to this topic (to subscribe: http://www.geometrick.com/newsltr_signup.htm ).
It continues to be the one thing we just don’t do when we run out of time. But, while it’s not foolproof and you do actually have to know how to ask questions and listen to answers to make it work for you, to begin with, it remains the best way to determine if you’re getting the right type and level of resource for your project.
On the other side of things, giving them isn’t so easy, either. It’s tricky to find just the right resources who can answer all the questions a potential customer might have, whose companies allow them to give references (and there are fewer people who are allowed to do this, any more), and to find someone that is reachable by phone (is anyone ever at their desk, any more? iit seems hard to find someone who isn’t running around or at meetings).
We look to all sorts of ways to try to rubber-stamp people so that we can shop for them as if they were pre-packaged cookies, but there’s nothing anyone has come up with that can yet take he place of a good set of references and good questions to them.