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Hardly, when you consider that the results are typically posted every day online and in the newspapers. Its not as if world temperature data is being kept secret. Are you suggesting that scientists are hiding temperature data from the public? Surely you must be joking.
You missed my point entirely. Many scientists work for the public and it is the public who pays, yet it is typically a handful of capitalists that profit. Why should scientists be expected to share, but not those capitalists who get to profit form the work of others?
Perhaps the solution is for scientists to simply patent and copyright everything themselves. Now that there is electronic publishing, except for reviews is there really the need to pay publishers 7 figure salaries just to gather up the work of others, copyright it, and distribute it with no tangible benefit to the scientists that their work wouldn't gain beyond what they would have received if they published it themselves? Scientists are already doing the reviewing and the editing.
More rapid sequencing and hopefully much less expensive sequencing will greatly improve our knowledge, but the reality is that species identification will always be an issue since there are so many similar species often difficult to tell apart. So care must be taken with the identifications to ensure that the correct name is being attached to the sequences generated. The need for vouchers will be with us for a very long time to come and this may be a good thing, since it will shift the focus from simply obtaining and describing sequences or simply describing morphology toward understanding the functional, ecological, physiological, and evolutionary relationships between the different kinds of data that can be used for identification.
And to make it worse, someone then discovers that many of the original specimens from such a study were not saved and hence the identifications used in the study can not be duplicated, making the study worthless, because no one can be sure from which organism or linneage the sequences were actually collected from.
"Where's the down side?"
Well one area of concern is how the data are used in litigation. Take a particular ecological or molecular study, any that you might think of. Say the data is curated and made available via PLOS or some other archive or entity. Now a good lawyer notices that the data are incomplete, since they do not cite the repositories of any voucher materials that would permit the reidentification of any of the species in the study. None were saved, because it was too costly. Without the vouchers, such studies are essentially useless since a case could be made that the original identifications are suspect or the original tissues were contaminated by the genes of other species not correctly identified. A good corporate lawyer will have an easy time showing any environmental studies are indefensible and incomplete and in now time, there are no environmental studies or laws that can pass a rigorous voucher test. Why weren't vouchers saved? For many of the same reasons most data is not archived for posterity and freely available: the cost in time and effort that is simply unavailable.
Often museums and scientists would love to save the material, but can't afford to do so, since they have become no longer vast collections of well curated and intensively studied materials, but expensive headaches that the public isn't really interested in since they are more fascinated with youtube.com. Perhaps, we will all just be able to watch as humanity bends over and kisses its arse good bye.
This is a tall order, since scientists are held to a much higher standard than capitalists, and consequently always at a disadvantage. Scientists are expected to give away the product of their labor for free for all to use as they wish, but others are permitted to extract all the profits they may be able to get from the scientist's work, without any of the funds flowing directly to the scientist, who generated the data in the first place. One might ask why government contractors aren't likewise expected to turn all their profits and records over to the public, since their profits are derived entirely from public money?
Perhaps scientists wouldn't be so squeamish about releasing ALL of their data just to publish a single paper, if they can be guaranteed a minimum of 50% of all profits that may derive from their work. My guess is that GOP politicians would immediately object to this a limiting the religious freedom of capitalists to worship money as they see fit. I freely admit, however, that this is just a hunch, based entirely on past performance.
Yes, but increase the amount of reading necessary for each paper by orders of magnitude.
"What? The organism is not the data - the data is all the measurements you took of that organism and all the situations you subjected them to in order to reach the conclusions that you are publishing."
You simply don't understand and have a very naive view of biology and the complexity of life on planet Earth. If you don't have voucher material available to confirm the identity of the organisms under study, then there are no definite subsequent statements that one can make about any of the measures, observations, etc extracted from that species, since it may well be that the study at hand is actually based on another species entirely or a mixture of closely related species that have not been properly identified.
For many species, this is generally not regarded as a serious issue and great pains and expense have gone into establishing particular strains or lineages for purposes of experimentation so this issue can be set aside and assumed to be answered. However, for a great many more, it is always a very serious issue, since few organisms actually come with the correct scientific identification neatly printed on their backs for all to make an easy identification. Just ask yourself, of the 30,000 species of fishes, for example, how many do you think the average scientist can readily identify? Now ask that of coleopterans or even larger or more obscure taxa. In reality, the voucher is the data, since it is the only way one can with any certainty reproduce a biological study. Once you have the identity of the species involved determined and confirmed, then you can go about studying various measurable properties. However, without that critical piece, the rest is conjecture. One needs to recognized thousands of papers have been published in which the organisms in question have been misidentified. The only way one can be sure, is to have saved voucher material.
Excellent point. Given the modern GOP who are reluctant to even spend money on people, who are starving, its hard to imagine that they are going to be forthcoming with hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to maintain "all relevant data" in archives and repositories that are available on line in electronic form. Having lived through the era of Proxmier's "Golden Fleece Awards", it is totally predictable how politicians would howl at having to fund all sorts of projects that they could mischaracterize out of context as an excuse to cut science budgets further. In the current climate we would probably see legislation calling for the execution of scientists who somehow "mishandle" data. Look at the grief Michael Mann was put through for no good reason. I certainly wish it were true that politicians would see the value and benefit of funding the archival of data, but judging from the behavior of this GOP congress toward scientific research and its funding, such thinking is pure fantasy.
Asking that ALL data be saved is a very big requirement, especially for the molecular community. Although the sequences often find their way into Genbank, or at least those that are brought together from pieces of other data that may seldom gets into Genbank. To make maters worse the specimens from which the sequences are made are seldom saved and archived, so that it is often next to impossible to actually verify that the sequences in Genbank are actually from the species that are thought to have been sequenced. I know this is a major problem, since much of my time is spent trying to track down the source of such tissues so that the specimens, should they still exist, which they seldom do, can actually have their identities confirmed. In principle, if the original specimens are saved, since they are in fact the ultimate voucher that makes the data valuable in the first place and the published sequences useless without it, this will greatly benefit the scientific community. However, vouchering of specimens is even more costly than data, which evidently why the molecular community has done such a poor job of it for many species. The problem is large because there is no easy way to define the limits of what is meant by data.
Good point. However, even for data that only comes to gigabytes, all such data and the resources necessary to set up and maintain such repositories is going to cost a lot of money. Journals can demand it, but its not clear that authors will be able to pay to put it in the form that journals might like to see. There is also the question of archival costs. Any organization that accumulates such data is going to require a revenue stream to pay for it. This could well be yet another cost that needs to be given consideration, especially now that the cost of just conducting experiments and collecting and analyzing data is already extraordinarily difficult to come by as it is. Adding to these costs may well actually impede research, even though the motives are laudable. However, to the extent that such data can be archived and made available electronically all of science will benefit. PLOS doesn't really begin to address these issues. Its an old issue, that museum curators are all too familiar with, but as always still awaiting funds to actually address it properly. Just having such a good idea, isn't going to make it feasible until someone actually starts addressing the financial aspects of the issue in a realistic way, especially since the problem only gets bigger and bigger with time since data accumulates.
What is going to happen to all those secure credit card transactions that are the life-blood of internet commerce, when third parties figure out how to decrypt packets en-route by infiltrating the procedures of ISP's and alter them to "achieve efficiencies"?
You would think capitalists have a lot to loose if this proposal goes forward.