Friday, August 13, 2010

Epidemiology Data

In principle, I am highly supportive of the free release of data. But the issue is very tricky in epidemiology for two reasons.

One, data can make years (or even decades to collect). Making a study with many objectives instantly publicly available would make it hard for the orginal research team to be properly credited for the work. There are solutions that might work, but so long as the primary method of credit for grant and data collection is via the papers produced this will be tricky.

Two, epidemiological data often has a lot of tricky analysis issues. It's not implausible that taking short-cuts with the data analysis and taking an overly simple approach might not result in a publication being ready more quickly. It's good for neither the main team (which now has to rush) or the reading public (which has a higher risk of scientific errors).

So the principle is good but the implementation is much harder than it looks. It really is an area waiting for a good idea.

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