Invest 5% of research funds in ensuring data are reusable

Barend Mons at Nature: “It is irresponsible to support research but not data stewardship…

Many of the world’s hardest problems can be tackled only with data-intensive, computer-assisted research. And I’d speculate that the vast majority of research data are never published. Huge sums of taxpayer funds go to waste because such data cannot be reused. Policies for data reuse are falling into place, but fixing the situation will require more resources than the scientific community is willing to face.

In 2013, I was part of a group of Dutch experts from many disciplines that called on our national science funder to support data stewardship. Seven years later, policies that I helped to draft are starting to be put into practice. These require data created by machines and humans to meet the FAIR principles (that is, they are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable). I now direct an international Global Open FAIR office tasked with helping communities to implement the guidelines, and I am convinced that doing so will require a large cadre of professionals, about one for every 20 researchers.

Even when data are shared, the metadata, expertise, technologies and infrastructure necessary for reuse are lacking. Most published data sets are scattered into ‘supplemental files’ that are often impossible for machines or even humans to find. These and other sloppy data practices keep researchers from building on each other’s work. In cases of disease outbreaks, for instance, this might even cost lives….(More)”.