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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carroll

Protect your data

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

NSF leads the way with requirements on data archiving.

NSF requirements on data archiving and access have long been in place. Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly clear why this is. From ransom-ware attacks to reproducibility to data forgery, the integrity of the data collected in our labs has come under scrutiny by every major scientific community in the world. Scientific communities have all come under pressure for greater funding, achieving that Nature paper, the tenured position, etc. However, as scientists we still seek the truth and care with data is one way we ensure that we can speak with any authority, know the limits of our findings, and perpetuate the cycle of testing of ideas.

“I still have reels of magnetic tape from my graduate student days.”

Like many of you, I still have reels of magnetic tape, and printouts of original data from my thesis in the 1980's. And, like many of you, much of this data is completely unrecoverable even though the research is very relevant today. This is obviously unacceptable.


Following the example set by many larger labs, the Nanotech Center is instituting new backup systems for data sets, archived data sets to be submitted with each paper so conclusions can be tested directly, and finally open access to some data sets through instruments like research gate or google scholar. The goal is platform transparency so that the data can be viewed by any researcher working in the field. All data notebooks and working documents are kept on file at the Center indefinitely. These policies, it is hoped, will bring us closer to ensuring that any published work from Nanotech can be easily reproduced in labs elsewhere.

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