What is a dataset worth?

If you have been in the trade long enough you will have old unpublished datasets. And there may be different reasons for this. Mostly it is your own fault, you prioritized something else or you found something more interesting to work with, and the dataset got stuck somewhere in the process. But it may also be one of your co-workers’ fault, who never got done with his or her part. Usually they are not big datasets, but they are stuff you originally planned to publish years ago. My friend Jan Storå calls it “stuff in the backpack”.


I have been looking for ways to deal with this problem, and since a year or so we have concentrated writing-sessions every now and then, where those who want and are able to go off somewhere for two days and try to take one of these slumbering datasets to a first manuscript-draft. That is what we did with Sala Silver-mine last winter (a manuscript that is now out on review), that is also what we did out in the archipelago some weeks ago, and I will likely ask people to join me on a similar session this winter, we have enough of them slumbering datasets to do this a few times.


Almost ten years ago we produced several HVR-datasets using FLX sequencing, some we published, others we did not. I´m thinking of taking one of them old HVR datasets and bring to Texas for a few days to write it up with Anna Linderholm (who is based in Texas these days). An ancient HVR dataset is not going to be a career-building break-through paper, but I think it is worth it. It is data that we once spent time and money on producing, and that we collected from material provided by archaeologists who wants to see their input mean something. And it is always good to get stuff out of that backpack. So in December I am most likely flying to Texas with a set of old HVRs from a far off corner of the world.