Sunday, February 13, 2011

Making data maximally available?

In the February 11, 2011 issue of Science (Vol. 331 no. 6018 p. 649), there is an editorial, titled "Making Data Maximally Available". Indeed, the issue contains a special section on "Dealing with Data".
Science is driven by data. New technologies have vastly increased the ease of data collection and consequently the amount of data collected, while also enabling data to be independently mined and reanalyzed by others ... It is obvious that making data widely available is an essential element of scientific research.
Especially, I like the following two (proposed) new policies:
  1. To extended data access requirement "to include computer codes involved in the creation or analysis of data." If properly implemented/enforced, this policy could significantly increase the repeatability and assessment of published results. In my experience, I have observed too many times that secrets are hidden in the seemingly "little" subtle details.
  2. "To produce a single list that combines references from the main paper and the SOM" (supporting online material) to "provide credit and reveal data sources more clearly". Potentially, this will also increase the citation of method papers.
Hopefully, other journals will follow Science's lead to make data maximally available, and to present data more transparently.