Liberating field science samples and data

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Science  04 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6277, pp. 1024-1026
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad7048

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Transparency and reproducibility enhance the integrity of research results for scientific and public uses and empower novel research applications. Access to data, samples, methods, and reagents used to conduct research and analysis, as well as to the code used to analyze and process data and samples, is a fundamental requirement for transparency and reproducibility. The field sciences (e.g., geology, ecology, and archaeology), where each study is temporally (and often spatially) unique, provide exemplars for the importance of preserving data and samples for further analysis. Yet field sciences, if they even address such access, commonly do so by simply noting “data and samples available upon request.” They lag behind some laboratory sciences in making data and samples available to the broader research community. It is time for this to change. We discuss cultural, financial, and technical barriers to change and ways in which funders, publishers, scientific societies, and others are responding.