It is human nature to make a mistake and the scientific world is not immune to this. Nevertheless, when mistakes are found, all parties involved should work in synchrony to assure their swift correction.
In a worrisome letter published last month in Nature, Dr. David Allison proved how scientific mistakes are currently protected under a dome of dreadful and outdated procedures. The focus of the text is mainly on journals’ methodology and how they are not optimized to handle scientists’ mistakes and their wrongdoings, but, out of the top 6 problems, one, in particular, caught our attention: “No standard mechanism exists to request raw data“.
One of the biggest problems with accessing raw data is the way it’s documented. Nowadays, the majority of the scientists still rely on a paper lab notebook to record their daily laboratory life. Although acceptable in the past, paper lab notebooks should be rapidly replaced in contemporary laboratories where 99% of the data is produced digitally and, therefore, should also be recorded in the same format.
Here at labfolder, we know the importance of data access and, for this reason, we are offering to integrate figshare with our own platform. figshare intends to open scientific data to the entire community so that it can be visualized and analyzed by independent researchers. Connecting labfolder and figshare will offer scientists a perfect synergy between documenting and storing data. One of the advantages of figshare is the option to choose which data is public, so scientists can store their data while producing it and make it public, for example, when a paper gets accepted.
Having all lab-generated data on digital platforms will definitely facilitate the request for raw data by journals or researchers. Upgrading to an electronic format can help guarantee fewer unnecessary published scientific mistakes.
The establishment of standard operating procedures to tackle scientific mistakes should be a central topic in all corners of scientific publishing and novel ways need to be found to achieve this.