Marcia McNutt in Science: “In the midst of steady progress in policies for data sharing, a recent editorial expressed a contrarian view.* The authors described the concern of some scientists about the rise of an underclass of “research parasites” who exploit data sets that are collected and curated by others. Even worse, these parasites might use such data to try to disprove the conclusions posited in the data’s original source studies. The editorial raised the points of how anyone not involved in the original study could use the data without misrepresenting it, and the danger of perhaps arriving at erroneous conclusions. The editorial advised instead that data sharing be implemented by involving the authors of the original study as coauthors in follow-up research. The research community immediately took to Twitter under the hashtag #IAmAResearchParasite to voice opposition to the editorial.

Much of what we know about the large-scale features of this planet is apparent thanks to widespread data-sharing practices and the early establishment of data banks in the geosciences. Aspects such as determining the shape of the ocean floor, ocean chemistry, the internal structure of Earth’s deep interior, the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, and many other topics could not have been ascertained from a single investigator’s field program…

There are costs to implementing data reuse, but there are also costs for irreproducible research and for recollecting data for new uses. And no amount of funding can reconstruct lost ephemeral or time-dependent phenomena for which the data were not well curated. No more excuses: Let’s step up to data sharing…(More)”