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Communications of the ACM


When Data Is Not Enough

When Data Is Not Enough, illustrative photo

Credit: Maggie Bartlett / NHGRI

Massive datasets and digital processing are transforming and accelerating science, but there is growing concern that many scientific results may not be trustworthy. Scientific procedures developed over centuries to assure reliable knowledge are sometimes overwhelmed by new ways of generating and processing scientific information. As a result, the scientific community is implementing requirements that help independent researchers reproduce published results, a cornerstone of the scientific method.

For data, the revolution is well under way. Inspired by projects like the Human Genome Project, the National Institutes of Health has provided infrastructure (and funding) for massive repositories of genetic and other data. In this field and others, researchers are expected to make their data available to other researchers.


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