A recent study from Current Biology found that 90% of data from papers published more than 20 years ago was inaccessible. In this study, the researchers tried to contact authors of 516 biological studies (published between 1991 and 2011) and asked them for their raw data. Some data was on obsolete technology (like three and a half inch floppy disks), some couldn’t be located, some email addresses were no longer active, and some authors just didn’t respond. In total, the researchers were only able to track down data for 23% of the published studies.
The results from this study underscore how important it is for researchers to create data management plans, and for funding agencies, journals, and universities to provide resources to help preserve data and provide access to it.