Data Citation and Publication by NERC's Environmental Data Centres | Ariadne: Web Magazine for Information Professionals
Data are the foundation upon which scientific progress rests. Historically speaking, data were a scarce resource, but one which was (relatively) easy to publish in hard copy, as tables or graphs in journal papers. With modern scientific methods, and the increased ease in collecting and analysing vast quantities of data, there arises a corresponding difficulty in publishing this data in a form that can be considered part of the scientific record. It is easy enough to ‘publish’ the data to a Web site, but as anyone who has followed a broken link knows, there is no guarantee that the data will still be in place, or will not have changed, since it was first put online. A crucial part of science is the notion of reproducibility: if a dataset is used to draw important conclusions, and then the dataset changes, those conclusions can no longer be re-validated by someone else.