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Data sharing, Research parasites and Saprotrophics

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:04 am
by pmeysman
A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine has sparked some controversy in the discussion about open data:

In particular, the controversy is focused around their warning against 'research parasites', those researchers who might use hard-won data that is publicly shared for their own ends.

As a result, the hashtag #researchparasites is now trending on twitter:

Obviously our field of bioinformatics and computational biology wouldn't be where it currently is without data sharing. I can't think of a single publication that didn't in part base itself on data originally collected by someone whom I've never even met.

But what I find most interesting about this discussion is its relation to the keynote given by Prof. Lennart Martens at the European Student Council Symposium in 2014 where he described how most of bioinformatics now takes place in a field he termed 'Saptrotrophics' (normally used to describe fungi digesting dead organic matter). By reusing old data that has been discarded in the literature, we can give it new purpose and find new insights.

Fascinating that similar terminology can come from both sides of the discussion.

More about the keynotes at ESCS2014 can be found here:

Also very much looking forward to see what new insights the keynotes at this year's ESCS will bring: