We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 120: The art of the data request (update)

RFI, Request for Information

Today is the big day, it’s my qualifier day. Since it hasn’t happened yet I cannot tell you how it went, but I feel pretty good about it. However, I still have a lot of other news to share, like my data request update. So let’s get to it.

If you recall from the other posts I made on the subject (found here and here), I had a problem. I needed some data from a research group that was tangential to my own work. So I wrote an email and made the request. After some back and forth, I was told I should reach out to the original lab’s PI (the first author of the paper had moved a few times since the data was published).

I was nervous that the data was lot to time, it had been 6ish years since they published the paper and for anyone who works with biological data, it takes up space… a lot of space. So I made the request and the PI from the original lab was super kind, but prodded a bit on why exactly I wanted the data. After carefully explaining what I wanted to do with it, I was passed on to his post-doc and was assured that he would help me.

Well as of two days ago I got the data! ALL OF THE DATA! I only needed a small subsection of the data, but I was pleasantly surprised to find all of it. The interesting thing here is he even threw in some code to process the data. I’m super pumped about all of this of course. While it won’t help with today like I had wanted, it will help future work and it will give me a good sanity check for future experiments.

At the end of the day, more often than not it is up to the lab to share the data or not. I was very lucky and I think a big part of it was how I went about the request for the data. While as researchers we are moving to a more open data sharing model (most journals make the request now that you share the data if asked), this was not the case for this particular dataset, so there was no obligation of any kind to share the data with me.

Now if you excuse me, I have my qualifying exam to get ready for. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it. I’m excited, but a little nervous. I’ve been practicing and I know what I need to do, so let’s just hope my nerves don’t take over and I can get it done.

Until next time, don’t stop learning!

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