Paleonet: An Open Letter in Support of Digital Data Archiving

Michael Knappertsbusch Michael.Knappertsbusch at
Wed Mar 30 09:18:58 GMT 2011

Dear all

That sounds very promising, indeed.
The only concern is whether research data remain allways freely  
accessible: There might be a conflict of interests because data  
archiving systems such as Pangea is science driven, while publishers  
are money driven.

To my knowledge Pangea does provide scientific information and data  
can be obtained for free. This is not the case with many high rank  
scientific journals, for which one has to pay if one wishes to read  
the full electronic article (at least if one is not connected within a  
university campus network and library system).

Just remember: The promise of electronic publication a decade ago was  
free and easy access of scientific articles to everybody all over the  
world until the market was dicovered: Free access is rather the  
exception than the rule today...

Conclusion: Data archives need to follow a dual function: remain fully  
free, but also feed the connection to publishers. But the risk that  
scientific data will be turned into money remains relatively high.

kind regards,
Michael Knappertsbusch

Zitat von Robert Huber <robert.huber at>:

> Dear all,
> for some paleo related data archiving at PANGAEA
> ( is surely also an option. PANGAEA adresses
> some of the concerns raised here such as intellectual properties
> issues.
> PANGAEA enables data sets to be citable and make use of the doi system.
> This led to an interesting cooperation between PANGAEA and  Elsevier:
> ("Elsevier and PANGAEA Take Next Step in Connecting Research Articles
> to Data ":  
> Here is an example how this looks like for micropal data:
> best regards,
> Robert
> On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 2:38 PM,  <rcpm20 at> wrote:
>> Dear Jere,
>> Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment on our Open Letter.
>> We encourage every palaeontologist and everyone with an interest in
>> palaeontology to do the same so that all our views are represented in one
>> place for all to see.
>> We believe data archiving is 'pushed' by the NSF and increasingly all other
>> funding bodies, all over the world, because there are a multitude of
>> compelling reasons to do so, as we have briefly outlined in our Open Letter
>> (
>> Yes, we acknowledge that there is a monetary cost associated with data
>> archiving, and it is an ongoing cost. But in my opinion, relative to the
>> potential benefits reaped (more science, more synthesis, more transparency,
>> more 'reproduceability'...) it will certainly be well-worth it as evaluated
>> by any considered cost/benefit analysis.
>> To quantify this, let us compare the 'page costs' of publishing a paper with
>> the cost of archiving the associated data with Dryad. I'm led to believe
>> that Dryad currently charges ~25USD per article to archive data, charged to
>> the journal (pers. comm. Todd Vision) - a reasonable and wise request to
>> ensure the long-term future of the availability of the data. Page costs vary
>> from journal to journal:  $55 per page (Evolution), $100 per page
>> (Paleobiology), $195 per page (PNAS), $1300 (total, PLoS ONE), with the
>> notable exception of Zookeys which can be *free* provided certain conditions
>> are met [1]. Clearly, in my opinion relative to page charges, data archiving
>> charges are slight but insignificant.
>> As for the smaller journals published by smaller less wealthy societies, I
>> would advocate a 'Freemium' approach and archive data in free repositories
>> e.g. FigShare, MorphoBank, MorphBank, PaleoDB, ZooBank, BioTorrents,
>> TreeBASE II, and others... These may perhaps be less certain in terms of
>> long-term sustainability, but have good short-term prospects, and they're
>> free, so why not! - in terms of additional time cost: it only took me 60
>> seconds to upload a test file and associated metadata to FigShare just
>> recently, so again, this is not a problem.
>> And to those who say that $25 per article may only subsidise the 'true cost'
>> of archiving (I don't know the economics of this myself), this is where
>> funding body support comes in: would it not be hypocritical for funding
>> bodies to urge data archiving and not help to fund it, at least in part?
>> The key thing *we* can do to ensure that archiving stays funded and viable,
>> is to embrace and support good and useful data archives by depositing our
>> data there AND re-using data from these archives (with full and proper
>> citation of both the original dataset(s) used AND the repository from which
>> one obtained the dataset(s)).
>> Finally, as for the article you mention:
>> Hanson, B., Sugden, A., and Alberts, B. 2011. Making data maximally
>> available. Science 331:649.
>> I encourage everyone to read this if you have access. It's a good article
>> and I do not think it finds the "future bleak" as you say - quite the
>> opposite in my opinion. There is a wealth of data out there and we must
>> learn new ways and build new tools to be able to fully make use of it all.
>> I would think from this that the future is very bright for data archiving
>> and palaeontological science :)
>> Kind regards to one and all,
>> Ross
>> 1:
>> thanks to V. Blagoderov (NHM) for pointing this out to me
>> -/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-
>> Ross Mounce
>> PhD Student
>> Fossils, Phylogeny and Macroevolution Research Group
>> University of Bath
>> 4 South Building, Lab 1.07
>> -/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-
>> _______________________________________________
>> Paleonet mailing list
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> --
> Dr. Robert Huber,
> -
> _____________________________________________
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PD Dr. Michael Knappertsbusch
Curator for micropaleontology
Natural History Museum Basel
West-European Micropaleontological Reference Center for the DSDP/ODP
Augustinergasse 2

Tel. +41-61-266 55 64
Fax. +41-61-266 55 46

Email: michael.knappertsbusch at
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