Some topics are best depicted through example, so here goes: The Jeremy Norman Molecular Biology Archive, which includes papers from Aaron Klug, Max Perutz, Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick, and James Watson, was on the auction block at Christie's.1
Its value? Between $2.2 and $3.3 million.
Now, as a responsible scientist you surely keep detailed notebooks and retain raw data from your experiments. But in addition to these, do you preserve letters (professional and personal), diaries, and successive drafts of manuscripts? What about photographs taken with colleagues and students, and pictures of your laboratory and apparatus? Grant applications, interim and final project reports, texts of speeches, minutes of meetings? Financial records, photos of old equipment, trade catalogs, and commercial publications?
You might be surprised to learn that all of the above can greatly aid the understanding of the progress of science. Their loss or destruction is a cause...