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Science & Technology

Concerns raised over 'astonishing' data loss

By T.K. Randall
December 22, 2013 · Comment icon 6 comments

A lot of data is being lost due to obselete storage devices. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Disorganisation is being blamed for as much as 80% of study data being lost within a period of 20 years.
With the widespread availability of computers and the Internet in this day and age it would seem like a simple task to store the results of a study in a reliable location so that they can be retrieved and referenced later on, yet remarkably a large percentage of the data recorded during scientific studies is being irretrievably lost.

The main culprit, according to a recent evaluation of the issue, is disorganization - study authors have been losing data due to things like obsolete storage devices and expired e-mail addresses. Up to 80% of the original data associated with a study is allegedly lost within the first two decades of it being published.
"I think nobody expects that you'd be able to get data from a 50-year-old paper, but to find that almost all the data sets are gone at 20 years was a bit of a surprise," said study leader Timothy Vines.

"Publicly funded science generates an extraordinary amount of data each year. The current system of leaving data with authors means that almost all of it is lost over time. Losing data is a waste of research funds, and it limits how we can do science."

Source: Times of Malta | Comments (6)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by ancient astronaut 10 years ago
Disorganized is Man's middle name.
Comment icon #2 Posted by diablo_04 10 years ago
That is why important documents must have hard copies stored in archives.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Calibeliever 10 years ago
And this is just a trickle of data lost in the grand scheme of 'modern' times. In this age of magnetic storage how much of our current technology and knowledge would be lost if the power went out for any appreciable length of time?
Comment icon #4 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
Seems about right to me. I mean, I throw out stuff all the time. Not all scientific study's data is actually worth saving. Very likely 50% of what is recorded for science just needs to be thrown out anyway. I mean there is data being collected on the breeding habits of extinct animals. (I don't know that for sure, but it sounds likely.)
Comment icon #5 Posted by qxcontinuum 10 years ago
Once again, modern science fails exceptionally. The age of stupid , that is currently ..
Comment icon #6 Posted by Frank Merton 10 years ago
I have trouble taking this one seriously. Surely scientific data of importance is backed up on non-volatile media. If it is so trivial as to be thrown away, then that is probably the best thing for it.


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