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DATA: Past Due

Ned Shaw Open your file drawer all the way, and force your fingers to pry through the folders wedged in the back. Or take down that black binder from a decade ago, labeled with the name of a student you can no longer picture. Perhaps you saved that dataset for the sparkling nugget of an unexpected finding, hoping to determine later whether it might be fool's gold or the real thing. But, in relinquishing it to the vault, it's become like mystery meat, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil inside a

Jill Adams
Ned Shaw

Open your file drawer all the way, and force your fingers to pry through the folders wedged in the back. Or take down that black binder from a decade ago, labeled with the name of a student you can no longer picture.

Perhaps you saved that dataset for the sparkling nugget of an unexpected finding, hoping to determine later whether it might be fool's gold or the real thing. But, in relinquishing it to the vault, it's become like mystery meat, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil inside a Ziploc bag and engulfed in the growing wall of ice in the back of your freezer.

Data get old. While not subject to freezer burn, data lose their relevance as a field advances. You may have a valid reason, however, for keeping unpublished data beyond its expiration date. That reason could be the new National Institutes of Health requirement that...

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