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Data after death

It's usually not a situation scientists tend to think about -- until, tragically, they must. linkurl:Karen Strier,;http://www.anthropology.wisc.edu/people_strier.php a biological anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, previously gave no thoughts to what would happen to her data, equipment, funding, and lab personnel -- the graduate students, postdocs, and research technicians -- should she die. Then she lost a colleague and a student in short succession. Image: Wikimedia commo

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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It's usually not a situation scientists tend to think about -- until, tragically, they must. linkurl:Karen Strier,;http://www.anthropology.wisc.edu/people_strier.php a biological anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, previously gave no thoughts to what would happen to her data, equipment, funding, and lab personnel -- the graduate students, postdocs, and research technicians -- should she die. Then she lost a colleague and a student in short succession.
Image: Wikimedia commons,
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"The combination started getting me to think" about the possibility of my own death, she recalled. Specifically, she thought about "just how fragile our data are if they're not protected," and grew concerned for the preservation her own long-term field data on muriqui monkeys. "Anyone could go out and do another study, [but] the long-term data on life history can take as many years to accumulate as the animals live." Researchers agree that most don't establish a plan for ongoing projects should...



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