Monday, June 22, 2015

Indepedent backups of researcher data

Open data is important for healthy scientific research. A recent journal article by Vines et al. studies how available data is from authors. Sadly, they find that
[R]esearch data cannot be reliably preserved by individual researchers, and further demonstrates the urgent need for policies mandating data sharing via public archives.
Most policy mandates are for newly published research, but what about data from existing publications? Is there a way that independent parties could try to preserve what material is available?

One idea is to have an established group systematically look for data that is only available on a researcher's personal/institutional website and to post in a repository (either at the journal or separately at a place like dataverse). The group should have some reputation so there is trust that the data was not manipulated.

Secondly, the group could try to acquire data even when the data is not available for download. They could ask authors. This would take much more time and have a low response rate, but still might be worth the investment. The group could also accept material from those who had already requested and received replication materials from the authors.  This would require little effort on the part of the group.

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