N – Preserving data

Scientific data can be lost because of the storage medium (fragile or obsolete) or because researchers weren’t aware of its value. Nature News reports on an attempt to reduce the risk of data loss, launched to coincide with the biennial conference of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The project is a global inventory of threatened data and was instigated by Elizabeth Griffin, an astronomer at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, Canada, and William Anderson, an information specialist at the University of Texas at Austin and an associate editor of the Data Science Journal. A task group hopes to catalogue data by the simple technique of asking scientists what they’ve got in their vaults.