Other People’s Data: A Demonstration of the Imperative of Publishing Primary Data
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This study explores issues in using data generated by other analysts. Three researchers independently analyzed an orphaned, decades-old zooarchaeological dataset and then compared their analytical approaches and results. Although they took a similar initial approach to determine the dataset’s suitability for analysis, the three researchers generated markedly different interpretive conclusions. In examining how researchers use legacy data, this paper highlights interpretive issues, data integrity concerns, and data documentation needs. In order to meet these needs, we propose greater professional recognition for data dissemination, favoring models of “data publication” over “data sharing” or “data archiving.”
KeywordsData integrity Blind test Faunal analysis Legacy data
We thank Abbas Alizadeh (University of Chicago) for making this dataset publicly available and encouraging our use of these data. We also note that this study would not have been possible without Jane Wheeler’s original analysis, and her contribution is recognized in Open Context, where a copy of these data is published and archived. We wish to acknowledge and thank three anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the presentation and the strength of this paper. This study is part of a broader endeavor exploring user needs in archaeological data sharing, carried out by the Alexandria Archive Institute and funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Advancing Knowledge: The IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership program.
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