FASEB Comments on Proposed NIH Data Catalog Created by on 07/25/2013
By Bethany Drehman
Earlier this month, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) provided comments
in response to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) request for information regarding the development of an NIH data catalog. The data catalog is intended to function as a repository of information about available datasets, not as a repository for the datasets themselves, and has been referred to as a “PubMed for data.”
FASEB indicated support for a data catalog but described a number of barriers to success. For example, its comments highlighted the lack of incentive for researchers to participate, as “the majority of the effort is to be borne by the initial investigator for the benefit of secondary users,” and encouraged NIH to explore ways to increase the benefits accrued by initial investigators. Additional barriers include the need for continuous standardization and curation of metadata and the catalog, the lack of metadata collection and reporting tools, and ongoing barriers to data sharing in general.
FASEB also described how the data catalog should ideally develop over time – expanding in scope so that it will be of value to researchers in all life science fields. However, FASEB noted that this could not be achieved immediately and instead recommended that NIH initially focus on data types that are most amenable for catalog inclusion.