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Curr Biol. 2014 Jan 6;24(1):94-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.014. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

The availability of research data declines rapidly with article age.

Author information

  • 1Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada; Molecular Ecology Editorial Office, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada. Electronic address: vines@zoology.ubc.ca.
  • 2Women's Health Research Institute, 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6H 3N1, Canada.
  • 3Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
  • 4Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada; Centre for Ecology & Conservation Biosciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Tremough, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK.
  • 5Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada; Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, 12666 72(nd) Avenue, Surrey, BC V3W 2M8, Canada.
  • 6Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada; Department of Biology, Université Laval, 1030 Avenue de la Médecine, Laval, QC G1V 0A6, Canada.

Abstract

Policies ensuring that research data are available on public archives are increasingly being implemented at the government [1], funding agency [2-4], and journal [5, 6] level. These policies are predicated on the idea that authors are poor stewards of their data, particularly over the long term [7], and indeed many studies have found that authors are often unable or unwilling to share their data [8-11]. However, there are no systematic estimates of how the availability of research data changes with time since publication. We therefore requested data sets from a relatively homogenous set of 516 articles published between 2 and 22 years ago, and found that availability of the data was strongly affected by article age. For papers where the authors gave the status of their data, the odds of a data set being extant fell by 17% per year. In addition, the odds that we could find a working e-mail address for the first, last, or corresponding author fell by 7% per year. Our results reinforce the notion that, in the long term, research data cannot be reliably preserved by individual researchers, and further demonstrate the urgent need for policies mandating data sharing via public archives.

PMID:
24361065
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.014
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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