Historical Data – Where is it?

Have you heard the news?  The Ontario Agricultural College will be 150 years old in 2024.  Wow!!  150 years of being recognized for our research, our students, our faculty, and our community in the areas of food, agriculture, communities and the environment.  Now, as a data archivist and researcher, I only have one question:  Where is all the research data collected over all these years?

Yes we can find some of the data – no worries, some may argue that the data is in the journal articles – and I may agree with you in some instances.  BUT, overall, we need to come to the realization that the older data is more than likely gone and lost.  Older media – 5.25″ diskettes, magnetic tapes – or older software – VPplanner, QuattroPro, my favourite Word Perfect – have led us to a time where we can no longer access the older data.  Over the past few decades, data allowed us to answer our research questions, but once it completed its job, it was often left on a shelf, or in a box, or in the basement.

We MUST view and treat data as a valuable asset.  Take it off the shelf, out of the box, bring it back to light and treat it as that valuable asset!  Data should be viewed as gold in our research field.  So, how do we do this?  Quick answer is Research Data Management!

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about the Data Life Cycle and start digging into the details of what YOU can do to make your data available for our future students and researchers.