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The Data Dilemma

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Scientific Literature and Data: Proliferation, Storage, and Open Access

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1402.1 - 12.1402.13



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Paper Authors

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Amy Stout Massachusetts Institute of Technology

author page

Anne Graham Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Data Dilemma

There’s a famous allegory about a map of the world that grows in detail until

every point in reality has its counterpoint on paper; the twist being that such a

map is at once ideally accurate and entirely useless, since it’s the same size as the

thing it’s meant to represent 1.


The proliferation of scientific data is inspiring a paradigm shift in the way we manage

information. Scientists frequently use other scientists’ data for their experiments 2, taking

a step out of the traditional process known as the scientific method 3. As data is rapidly

produced and shared, the results of experiments are practically becoming disseminated as

they are collected, speeding up a process that used to take longer 4. With such a wealth of

data available, information retrieval has become a critical component of scientific

research. Tools like metadata, sophisticated databases and search engines are desperately

trying to keep pace with the changing world 5. Furthermore, there are social and legal

issues to consider. What data can be shared and disseminated? Who owns data? What

about “facts” that have been extracted from years of experimentation or using patented

devices? Traditionally, so-called facts have not been copyrightable, resulting in laws that

become blurred 6.

Another issue affecting data management is how to handle data as an object. Librarians

are used to the book/journal model 7. Open Access, a movement that started in the early

Stout, A., & Graham, A. (2007, June), The Data Dilemma Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1553

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