The Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age

Current Biology, Volume 24, Issue: December 419, 2013

Policies ensuring that research data are available on public archives are increasingly being implemented at the government [1], funding agency [2,3,4], and journal [5,6] level. These policies are predicated on the idea that authors are poor stewards of their data, particularly over the long term [7], and indeed many studies have found that authors are often unable or unwilling to share their data [8,9,10,11]. However, there are no systematic estimates of how the availability of research data changes with time since publication. We therefore requested data sets from a relatively homogenous set of 516 articles published between 2 and 22 years ago, and found that availability of the data was strongly affected by article age. For papers where the authors gave the status of their data, the odds of a data set being extant fell by 17% per year. Read More