Ethical Dimensions of Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems

2.3 Care for Data


2.3 Care for Data

Data are Fundamental to Research

Data are the core of research. The recent requirements by federally funded grants to develop data management plans summarize the imperatives here, including long-term storage of data, sharing of data, and other aspects of assuring data integrity, continuity, and federation. Data is considered part of the investment into research, in that it should be accessible to future researchers. Further, data or samples may be subject to other forms of analysis in the future, thus the future potential for data should also be taken into consideration when implementing management plans. As well, data security and privacy of subject data is of key importance to the protection of research subjects.


Interoperability of data, particularly across research institutions, is crucial in conducting collaborative research across a large network, such as in large scale public health networks. Paying attention and adhering to meta-data standards (information about data types and data structures) is of growing importance in sharing data between research communities, across disciplines, between regulatory institutions, governmental offices, and NGOs.

Data Standards and Storage

Attention to research data standards is crucial to avoiding cases such as when the thrust of the Mars Climate Orbiter was using metric unit Newtons (N) while the NASA ground crew was using the Imperial measure Pound-force (lbf), a mistake which caused the subsequent loss of the $500 million (US) satellite.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Data Sharing Policy

Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections, and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing.