Stephen R. Heller
Washington DC 20460
WHERE HAVE ALL THE DATA GONE?
"Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink". As analytical chemists we generate an ocean of scientific data, but what do we do with it?
With the ever-increasing number of publications, coupled with higher. printing costs, there is great pressure brought on journal editors to keep manuscripts as short as possible. While this is quite understandable, it cops, in my opinion, lead to a very serious problem. The vast majority of (hopefully ) good analytical data, such as spectroscopic, kinetic and thermodynamic measurements, is never readily made available to the scientific community. Published data are often so "compressed" that one is unable to examine alternative interpretations, as the published data are not sufficient. Partial data are preferred to complete data. For example, a mass spectrum is published showing a large molecular ion, but the associated 33C isotope peaks are left out, so as not to clutter up the diagram.
While the Crystal Data Centre in Cambridge has an arrangement with the Royal Chemical Society requiring authors to submit full x-ray data to Cambridge, this is the exception. Why doesn't ACT make it a policy to require authors to submit full data on spectroscopic and other data for which there are existing data centers? Furthermore, I propose that the editors of this journal and other such journals establish criteria for collecting relevant data for which no data center exists today in order to prepare for the future. Perhaps it is time for a conference of journal editors to meet and propose a solution to this problem. Unless something real and practical is done in the near future, it will become impossible to find or use scientific data with the resulting loss of time and money for those who need to repeat experiments. I look forward to comments on this subject.