Titus at the Daily Life in an Ivory Basement blog writes a satirical open letter to the National Science Foundation in response to the funding body’s plan to require that all grant applicants provide a two-page data management plan along with their research proposals. In an effort to show just how convoluted and involved computational science data management can be — and how much it can vary from lab to lab — Titus writes, "I will store all data on at least one — and possibly up to 50 — hard drives in my lab. The directory structure will be custom, not self-explanatory, and in no way documented or described," adding that "backups will rarely, if ever, be done." The blogger alludes to the IP licensing complications that could arise, saying "Did I mention the click-through license? 'You are provided this data for the sole purpose of reproducing our published results. Any attempt to publish your own analyses of this data will be rejected, if necessary, during the anonymous review process, by pointing out all of the data cleanup steps you forgot to do correctly in your analysis,'" or, in other words, "Give up now." Noting that requesting supporting data from PIs can sometimes be a long, drawn-out process, Titus writes, "our repository is not publicly available – you have to beg for permission. Note, I only answer e-mail on every other Tuesday," and that "any design notes on the data analysis are in our private e-mail, and we will fight to the death – up to and including ignoring FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests – to prevent you from obtaining them."
‘Backups Will Rarely, If Ever, Be Done’
May 18, 2010