Making materials science and engineering data more valuable research products

  • Charles H WardEmail author
  • James A Warren
  • Robert J Hanisch


Both the global research community and federal governments are embracing a move toward more open sharing of the products of research. Historically, the primary product of research has been peer-reviewed journal articles and published technical reports. However, advances in information technology, new 'open access' business models, and government policies are working to make publications and supporting materials much more accessible to the general public. These same drivers are blurring the distinction between the data generated through the course of research and the associated publications. These developments have the potential to significantly enhance the value of both publications and supporting digital research data, turning them into valuable assets that can be shared and reused by other researchers. The confluence of these shifts in the research landscape leads one to the conclusion that technical publications and their supporting research data must be bound together in a rational fashion. However, bringing these two research products together will require the establishment of new policies and a supporting data infrastructure that have essentially no precedent in the materials community, and indeed, are stressing many other fields of research. This document raises the key issues that must be addressed in developing these policies and infrastructure and suggests a path forward in creating the solutions.


Materials data Data policy Data repository ICME MGI Integrated computational materials engineering Materials genome initiative Data archiving 



The authors wish to thank Clare Paul and Jeff Simmons for helpful discussions in preparing this manuscript.

This article has undergone an impartial review process. Charles H. Ward excused himself from any tasks associated with the processing of this article. The review process was handled entirely by other editors and all decisions regarding this publication have been made by them.

Supplementary material

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© Ward et al.; licensee Springer. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles H Ward
    • 1
    Email author
  • James A Warren
    • 2
  • Robert J Hanisch
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Air Force Research LaboratoryMaterials and Manufacturing Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFBUSA
  2. 2.National Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA
  3. 3.Space Telescope Science InstituteBaltimoreUSA

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