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Science in the ArchivesPasts, Presents, Futures$
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Lorraine Daston

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226432229

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226432533.001.0001

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The “Data Deluge”: Turning Private Data into Public Archives

The “Data Deluge”: Turning Private Data into Public Archives

Chapter:
(p.185) Seven The “Data Deluge”: Turning Private Data into Public Archives
Source:
Science in the Archives
Author(s):

Bruno J. Strasser

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226432533.003.0007

How did scientific databases become filled with data? And how did they become a cornerstone of open science? Framing databases within the broader history of scientific collections provides some answers. Natural history collections were often assembled with the help of wide networks of amateurs. But in the 20th century, when experimentalists attempted to build their own collections, they had no amateur community to rely on. Professional researchers were often unwilling to share their data. Within the moral economy of the experimental sciences, “data” was something that belonged to the private archive of the experimentalist. Scientific journals made the researchers' data public in exchange for the attribution of authorship and credit. In order to create a steady flow of data from the researchers' private archive to public databases, key scientists and database managers developed new strategies to align data deposition with the individual interest of researchers. Data submission became a condition for scientific publication, a policy enforced by journals editors. Other forms of incentives, based on data authorship and data citation, were established to reward scientists sharing data, creating our current “data deluge”.

Keywords:   big data, data deluge, database, authorship, moral economy, collections, databases, open science, GenBank, Protein Data Bank

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