eResearch Report 2017 - 2018 - Page 9

Dealing with the data
Data is now another thing you can be
cited for. Open-access publishing of
the data means it will be found and
reused by other researchers in your
field, and you will be credited for this.
The open publication of data
does require changes in
behaviour. Researchers now
need to think through issues
of data management they may
not have considered before, and
spend time on data curation.
However, these improved data
management practices may
impact positively on overall
research outcomes, both now
and in the future.
Curation is the process of
organising data according to
logical standards. High-quality
curation allows for the long-term
preservation and accessibility
of data. It can include activities
such as regular, secure backup
and archiving, or using open
formats that will survive
software and technological
changes and so remain
accessible in the long term.
“The advantages of properly
curated data are twofold,”
says Thomas King, data
curation officer at DLS.
“First, it means your data
won’t be lost. Second, if it is
organised and described in an
understandable and logical
way, it can be reused by
colleagues and students.”
An additional advantage of
the open publishing of data
for reuse is the added value,
says Lynn Woolfrey, operations
manager at DataFirst, an open
data repository at UCT. It has
become common to refer to
data as the new oil, but, says
Woolfrey, this comparison is
not accurate.
“To quote Adam Schlosser of the
World Economic Forum,” she says,
“data is not the new oil, because
the attitude of scarcity does not
apply to it. No one wants to share
oil wealth, but data gains value the
more it is shared.”
Open inquiry is at the heart of the scientific enterprise. Publication of
scientific theories – and of the experimental and observational data on
which they are based – permits others to identify errors, to support,
reject or refine theories and to reuse data for further understanding
and knowledge. Science’s powerful capacity for self-correction comes
from this openness to scrutiny and challenge.
– The Royal Society Science Policy Centre

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