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The DFG Requires Scientific Data Retention, Accessibility and Provides Funding for Academic Institutions

The DFG supports scientists with guidelines and funding to avoid data loss and ensure the accessibility of research data.

No matter where you get your funding from, it never looks good when you are asked to present your research data and are unable to deliver. That’s why the DFG, the German scientific funding body, has published guidelines and provides funding to help scientists ensure data retention.  

“The published reports on scientific misconduct are full of accounts of vanished original data and of the circumstances under which they had reputedly been lost.”

DFG, Good Scientific Practice

The DFG is clearly concerned about data loss for DFG-funded research: “The published reports on scientific misconduct are full of accounts of vanished original data and of the circumstances under which they had reputedly been lost.” (DFG, Good Scientific Practice)

This summarizes a major issue in today’s research routines. Research data is the groundwork for our scientific understanding, but its full potential is not reached due to its limited access. Scientists are struggling to find and retrieve their own data when asked, an issue that becomes more severe the more time has passed since data acquisition. An article published in Nature in 2013 shows that up to 80% of raw data is not available after only 20 years (see picture).

Loss of Access to Research Data May Harm Your Reputation

Most cases of scientific misconduct are often associated with the loss of data. As a scientist, you know that the inverse is not necessarily true. However, to protect your reputation, you should ensure the findability and accessibility of your data in order to safeguard against false accusations concerning your research. Academic organizations that have lost research data for projects funded by DFG may face challenges getting future funding.

“The disappearance of primary data from a laboratory is an infraction of basic principles of careful scientific practice and justifies a prima facie assumption of dishonesty or gross negligence.”

DFG, Good Scientific Practice

The DFG and many other funding agencies, such as SNF, NSF, NIH, have established rules and principles on how to handle scientific data. The DFG goes even further, condemning the loss of primary data deeply: “The disappearance of primary data from a laboratory is an infraction of basic principles of careful scientific practice and justifies a prima facie assumption of dishonesty or gross negligence.”

DFG Provides Guidelines and Funding to Avoid Data Loss

The DFG has set itself the task of supporting scientists with guidelines and funding in order to avoid (primary) data loss, a project that is continuously maturing due to constant developments. The basics of data managing guidelines are defined with the “Good Scientific Practice” in 1998; a manuscript which defines eight basic recommendations on how to ensure reproducible and transparent working procedure in science, including rules for the long-term storage and access to original data.

Data has piled up on hard drives, servers and CDs, but it is still not properly accessible on the specific storage device.

Keeping Data on Hard Disks, File Servers and Flash Drives is a Poor Approach

Data has piled up on hard drives, servers and CDs, but it is still not properly accessible on the specific storage device. This demonstrates that long-term storage systems do not represent a sufficient solution for this issue.

Proper Data Management Requires Metadata and Correlation

The DFG encourages scientists to do more than that: In order to ensure the data’s retrievability and findability in the vast amounts of scientific data that is produced every day, it is crucial to link experimental data and its metadata, thereby creating a sophisticated data network with all relevant data including “primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials” (Grant Proposal Guide, NSF, 2019).

The DFG emphasizes the importance of the data’s retrievability and reusability by officially encouraging researchers to evaluate their own data handling and to take appropriate steps to improve their data management.

DFG Offers Grant Money for Scientific Data Management Solutions

The DFG emphasizes the importance of the data’s retrievability and reusability by officially encouraging researchers to evaluate their own data handling and to take appropriate steps to improve their data management. Moreover, the organization has been supporting researchers and scientists since 2015 by granting money for software tools that promise the findability and reusability of data.  

Solutions That Match Your Specific Research Data Type Give You a Huge Advantage

The DFG supports scientists by facilitating the access to commercial tools in order to create a permanently accessible and reusable data management system. But, the details, planning, setting up and more are still left to the individual labs, resulting in a lot of time and effort to plan and organize a sophisticated data network. Moreover, head scientists and lab managers are left with the challenge of raising their students’ and co-scientists’ awareness on the importance of data management. If the scientists do not realize and understand the value of data reusability, the effort of setting up a data management plan becomes futile. In this case, the scientists won’t maintain the data system sufficiently, leading to an incomplete data network, which is only of value if maintained well and the full content is available.

LOGS Repository is a Leader in Data Management

LOGS Repository is a solution for data retention and keeping spectroscopic data accessible and reusable by  linking your spectra, samples, experiments and metadata, and enables collaboration with other groups. To find out more, visit the LOGS Repository website and contact us if you have any questions.

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If you would like to learn more about the DFG guidelines, potential software tools and how to implement these into your DFG proposal feel free to contact us.

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