Quote: Upload your data for the future

1 minute read

Andy Farke did a short interview with Kelsey Stilson, an author of a recent study on the paleopathology of rhinocerotids: “Author Interview: Kelsey Stilson on Gnarly Rhino Bones”. The study itself is interesting and I’ll be reading it carefully. But I wanted to point to this quote on the process of science:

I saw that you put your data–photos, observations, etc.–on MorphoBank. That’s awesome for the field, but must have been a ton of work. What tips do you have for other researchers who might want to follow in your footsteps and upload their own massive data sets?
Yes, it was a ton of work, but as a scientific community we have to upload everything we have (including metadata and associated documentation) for the future. Floppy discs degrade, computers crash, and notebooks get recycled. Even NASA accidentally erased the original Apollo 11 mission recordings. No matter how sloppy or out of focus you think your data is, it might be important some day and at the very least no one will have to redo that work again. My advice is to let any insecurities go and upload your data. That way there are at least two copies of it in the world. Also, include the specimen number when you rename your photos. That will save you a lot of grief.

She has some great advice for young scientists from the point of view of someone who began this research as an undergraduate research project.