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Steve Welburn, 2012-11-16 12:32 PM

Evidence Promoting Good Data Management

If you have any additional examples that you would like to share, please email them to: rdm.c4dm at gmail.com


General list of destroyed libraries on Wikipedia!


There are some 3 million shipwrecks scattered across the ocean floor, UNESCO has estimated, and most of them are still waiting to be found. One of those ships, which sank off the French coast in 1843, carried a treasure trove of science — most of the papers and research equipment of Jeanne Villepreux-Power, who was one of the leading cephalopod researchers of her time.


L'Aquila earthquake, Italy

A major casualty of the last week’s earthquake in Italy could be valuable research work done by a UK-based charity over the last two years.

Leukaemia Busters, Southampton, has been developing pioneering drugs in a clinic in the quake-hit city of L'Aquila.

Dr David Flavell, from the charity, said it was likely specially engineered leukaemia cells used to produce anti-bodies had been lost.

Two years of life-saving research into the treatment of a killer disease feared lost forever by a Hampshire charity has incredibly survived the Italian earthquake disaster.

Leukaemia Busters were delighted to discover that laboratories where scientists had spent the past two-and-a-half years working to develop pioneering drugs to fight leukaemia remain standing.

The unbelievable news came after rescue workers allowed Professor Rodolfo Ippoliti into the devastated city of L’Aquila and see for himself the destruction caused by the 6.3 magnitude quake.

Tohoku earthquake, Japan 2011

We have heard that research facilities and equipment at many universities and research institutions in the Tohoku and Kanto regions were damaged as a result of this disaster, and many scientists and students have been forced to stop their research because their valuable research samples or data have been lost. All of the staff and the researchers at NIH are deeply distressed by the devastation that has struck Japan.


Southampton University Mountbatten building U. of York Chemistry - 1980 U. of York History - 1992 U. of York, fire in student room - 1993 University of Glasgow

Professor Sir Graeme Davies said that a substantial amount of research had been lost in the fire.

U. of York chemistry building Strathclyde university engineering department
  • Further disruption for Strathclyde teaching students 12 September 2012 (The Journal)
    bq. The disruption began on 7 February when 150 students had to be evacuated as a fire started in the Roche Lab in the university's chemical engineering department, forcing the university to relocate lectures across the campus including the Royal College, and Students' Association building on John Street.

U. of Nottingham - GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry

The state-of-the art building, which had been partly funded by a £12m grant from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was still under construction and due to be completed by next year. It was to be "the world's first carbon neutral lab", the university said, and would have housed work aimed at "fundamentally changing how we do chemistry in a more sustainable way".


Hurricane Katrina Hurricane Sandy

When Hurricane Sandy struck New York, it washed away years of scientific research from the New York University School of Medicine, including genetically modified mice, enzymes, antibodies and DNA strands.

Flooding and blackouts caused by super storm Sandy have had a devastating impact on scores of scientists in the Big Apple, with one research center losing thousands of lab mice as well as precious reagents—a situation that could set some researchers back years.

Although New York University (NYU) was clearly the research facility hardest hit by this week’s storm, others were also affected. Leslie Vosshall, who studies the olfactory system of mosquitoes at Rockefeller University, located about 35 blocks further up river from NYU, shut down a computer server in the basement on Sunday, but fears it could have been damaged from flooding. She has had to wait for the university to pump out the water, before she can check on it. “We do have some of the data backed up elsewhere, but it would set us back significantly.”

Sandy and Allison...

In 2001, a tropical storm called Allison flooded Houston with several feet of rain and pushed 10 million gallons of water into the medical-school basements at the University of Texas. The disaster drowned at least 4,000 rats and mice, along with 78 monkeys, 35 dogs, and 300 rabbits. (More than half the animals on campus had been living underground.) Nearby, at the Baylor College of Medicine, basement flooding killed 30,000 mice.

Tropical storm Allison

Soaked hard drives and drowned lab animals may delay new medical discoveries by months or years, but hope survives as research facilities dry out.

Tropical Storm Allison's flood caused the following losses at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas-Houston Medical School:
One calf
Thirty-five dogs
Seventy-eight monkeys
Several hundred rabbits
More than 30,000 transgenic mice and rats
A state-of-the-art MRI machine worth $2 million
Ten years' worth of data on spinal cord injuries
A 20-year collection of 60,000 breast tumor samples

As well as destroying research animals, the floodwater has swamped computers. It has also caused power failures, knocking out the refrigerators and freezers used to store samples for research. Back-up cell cultures used for research into cancer at the Baylor College of Medicine will have died, say local officials.


HONOLULU — Heavy rain sent water as much as 8 feet deep rushing through the University of Hawaii's main research library Saturday, destroying irreplaceable documents and books, toppling doors and walls and forcing a few students to break a window to escape.

Lyttle's genetic research on the Drosophila goes back 35 years and some of it is irretrievably lost, he said.

McBride and much of the library staff worked all day Sunday to try to save some of the 90,000 photographs stored in the basement along with rare government documents and Hawaiian maps.

The flood also destroyed computers, books, magazines and equipment.

  • Classes canceled at UH on Wednesday 2 November 2004 (kpua.net)
    bq. ...But researchers at the University of Hawaii, which was hard hit, say the flash flood caused untold losses of research damage in computers damaged by flood waters.
  • Also risk during research for physical data... Cereal research programs set back a season from summer flooding 12 August 2014 (Manitoba Co-Operator)
    bq. ...All three programs have been set back a season due to data lost after their plots were inundated by the rising Assiniboine at July’s beginning ... they are starting to talk about what to do to mitigate the risk of this happening again...

Tales Of Lost Data

Recovery of Overwritten Hard Disk Data

5 October 2005 Linux Forums - http://tinyurl.com/8t7uaop

Hi, a friend of mine just overwrote two months of her PhD thesis with an older version. I know recovery of overwritten data is possible, but wonder if I'd need special hardware to do it. Does anyone know something about this ?

Thank You.

Stolen laptop had PhD research

19 March 2008 Surrey Leader - http://tinyurl.com/9hmtlv4

Thirty-five minutes spent in Langley’s Willowbrook Shopping Centre cost a Surrey woman much more than she had anticipated.

Langley RCMP say that while she was shopping from 1-1:35 p.m. last Monday, someone broke into her vehicle and stole a number of items, including a Mac iBook laptop containing the research she had compiled as she worked towards her PhD.

“All that information was on that computer and she has no back-up file,” said Langley RCMP spokesman Cpl. Brenda Marshall.

Google images of Langley Willowbrook

Happiness is the return of a stolen computer, with data intact

27 May 2010 The Press, NZ - http://tinyurl.com/38sznnh

Never has a man been so happy to see a computer full of data spreadsheets.

Claudio De Sassi's world fell apart when a car containing almost three years work towards his PhD was stolen two weeks ago. De Sassi, a Canterbury University academic, could not hide his joy yesterday as police reunited him with his stolen laptop and backpack.

Thugs steal Christmas, doctoral dreams

22 December 2010 KRQE - http://tinyurl.com/9a5j56f

A tiny television sits where a big screen used to, and a Christmas tree stands with little underneath it...

Even worse than the gifts, the crooks stole a MacBook Pro laptop and a LaCie hard drive.

The hard drive had … her dissertation and nearly seven years of research for her doctoral degree she was set to fnish in a few weeks. Osuna had everything backed up on a separate hard drive in a safe, but burglars made off with that too.

"All I could think about is that all that time is gone, all that effort, everything is gone," Osuna said.

Stolen hard drive contained almost completed PhD thesis

11 October 2012 Wanneroo Times - http://tinyurl.com/bw8nteo

A HOCKING mother has pleaded for the people who broke into her home on Saturday to return a portable hard drive containing her almost completed PhD thesis.

...“They stole two laptops, one of which has my thesis on it, as well as my portable hard drive, which had my back-up on it, as well as a TV and my husband’s mobile phone,” she said.

... The ECU Joondalup postgraduate student said the portable hard drive was worth less than $30, but was priceless to her.

Laptop Stolen From OSU Doctoral Student

NBC4i January 06 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/bmybv9x

...her car was broken into and her chrome Mac book pro was stolen. She has a back-up for all but the last six months of research, but the most important part of the research had happened recently.

Lost Thesis Poster



PostgraduateForum.com > Current PhD Students, PhD Life. 29 September 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/ct5e2no

I've 'lost' my thesis

Yes, I 'lost' my thesis today, at around 12:42pm (thesis RIP), microsoft word couldn't cope with the size of the document and my file got corrupted. I'd removed a small chunk of it and did some formatting to decrease its size yesterday but that obviously didn't stop it happening. After a few hours trying to recover it, I gave in and called for help. I then found out that, even if I'd managed to recover it, it probably wouldn't be the whole document, there could be parts missing, formatting gone awol, etc No sweat though, I regularly back up my work so it's just today's work that's been lost, well morning and lunch really as I spent the afternoon attempting to savage it,-) bit stressful but hey ho, not the end of the world. So for those of you who don't back your work up, start doing it now! And regularly! I can't possibly imagine what would have happened to me if I'd really lost everything weeks before submission...

Saving the data!

AG Daws blog Back It Up 1 August 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/dyntczd

I was busy in the lab one day writing my Honours thesis when the fire alarm went off. I assumed it was a drill. I kept on writing. That is, until the fire warden found me. He said the lab next door was on fire and told me to get the hell outside with everybody else.

I stared at him, then at the ageing Apple Macintosh computer with all of my precious words painstakingly hammered into place with two fingers. (This was before I could touch-type.) Then I looked at the jars of extremely flammable fixative and solvents and God-only-knows-what-else lining the shelves. (This was also before occupational health and safety was given much credence.)

I can tell you one thing—Word’s auto-save feature didn’t give me much comfort on that day. I fought off the fire warden long enough to unplug the computer from the wall and disentangle it from various peripherals. Then I carried the damned thing downstairs in my arms.

That was when I started backing up my work religiously.

Thesis Writing: Backing Up

Making Bones blog, 4 September 2012 - http://tinyurl.com/d7k83z8

I used to transfer my files between computers on an external hard drive. This meant I had all my files on both my work and home computer and the external hard drive. This worked until instead of working on the actual computer and then transferring files between computers I decided it was easier to just keep the most recent copy on the external. Soon I was only using the external and my computer files were a few months out of date. Then, one day, the external got knocked off a table and broke when it hit the floor. The files had to be restored by a technology company for $1600. This, obviously, was not what was meant by “backing up”.

...I do have one special backup method for my thesis write-up. A USB necklace. If the internet dies, my hard-drive gets smashed by a bulldozer, and both of my computers go up in flames, I’ll still have my thesis around my neck.

Laptop stolen through a window

It’s like half of my brain has been removed, 4 June 2014 - http://tinyurl.com/oq3opkw

She said: “It’s like half of my brain has been removed. It’s got five years’ work on it including my teaching notes, which are quite precious. It will definitely hamper my teaching, as I will have to go back and rewrite lectures.

“It also contains notes on my students, on research and human rights, and the book I’ve been working on since 2011, which is subtitled ‘refugee writing’, about refugees and literature.

“I was looking to get the book published next year, but it will probably be 2016 now. I will have to do a lot of the work again.

“While a lot of the work has been saved elsewhere, a lot of it hasn’t, so there’s a lot of archive work that I will have lost.

“The lesson is to always back up your work and not to leave things in your home near windows.”

Mistakes happens everywhere...

Toy Story II Blu-Ray extras

Someone /rm */ing the movie... and the backups having been failing... and recovering the movie from a copy that someone working at home had taken with tem.





When a size command was run on the Toy Story 2 directory, it was only 10% of the size it should have been. 90% of the movie had been deleted by the stray command.

YouTube copy of video: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EL_g0tyaIeE

Top 10 Data Disasters from Kroll OnTrack data recovery



  • 10. Rinse cycle
  • 9. Don't drink and work!
  • 8. Lost in the desert
  • 7. Erase all traces
  • 6. Slippery hands
  • 5. Lost in transit
  • 4. Disgruntled employee
  • 3. Careful driver
  • 2. Sweeping illness
  • 1. Don't ignore blinking RED lights




2008 - can't find...




Armed Robber Stole Laptops At Lark Café Last Night

Ditmas Park Corner, November 14, 2014

A writers group meeting at Lark Café (1007 Church Avenue) was robbed at gunpoint around 8:50pm Thursday night, when neighbors told us a man walked in with a gun and stole laptops from the nine-person group. We confirmed the robbery with Lark this morning, and we are relieved to hear that no one was physically injured.

Replace my stolen MacBook Pro

GoFundMe, September 16, 2014

Right after starting graduate school, my apartment was violently broken into and much of my belongings were taken. Many things were recovered, but one thing that wasn't was my laptop. My laptop had all of my undergraduate work, honors thesis work, and all of my debate work on it. It was my right hand when it came to my college career.

Wits student returns stolen textbooks to UJ student

Wits Vuvuzela, June 3, 2014

Gideon Chatanga lost three years of his doctoral thesis and personal belongings in a robbery two weeks ago but thanks to Witsie Emery Kalema, he now has some of his textbooks back.

Student reunited with her stolen hard drive

Otago Daily Times, Fri, 26 Dec 2014

...The return of the hard drive was made on payment of the $300 reward...

Losing Portable Devices

The Lost Laptop Problem

  • 2010 Ponemon Institute report for Intel re. US laptops
    • On average, 2.3% of laptops assigned to employees are lost each year
    • In education & research that rises to 3.7%, with 10.8% of laptops being lost before the end of their useful life
      • ~3 years i.e. within 1 PhD of allocation!
    • 75% lost outside the workplace
  • Very similar results from 2011 European report!

Intel 2010, The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem - http://tinyurl.com/8c9m4bn

Intel 2011, The Billion Euro Laptop Problem - http://tinyurl.com/9wpbxn9


Laptop Reliability

  • 2011 PC World Laptop Reliability Survey from 63,000 readers:
    • 22.6% had signifcant problems during the product's lifetime
    • Of which...
      • 19% had OS problems ~1 in 25 of all laptops
      • 18% had HDD problems ~1 in 25 of all laptops
      • 10% PSU problems ~1 in 50 of all laptops

PC World 2011 - http://tinyurl.com/876qza5

Hard Disk Failures

  • Failure Trends In A Large Disk Drive Population
    • Usenix conference on File and Storage Technologies 2007 (FAST '07)
    • Eduardo Pinheiro & Wolf-Dietrich Weber, Google Inc.
  • Data collected from over 100,000 disk drives at Google
  • As part of repairs procedures:
    • ~13% of disk drives replaced over 3 years
    • ~20% of disk drives replaced over 4 years

Article: http://tinyurl.com/octz6b

More info

Cloud Failures

In short, work done on one aspect of Dedoose led to the failure of another, cascading to pull down all of Dedoose. The timing was particularly bad because it occurred in the midst of a full database encryption and backup. This backup process, in turn, corrupted our entire storage system.

The backup file of data through April 11th has been pieced back together, however it remains encrypted and corrupted. We are running a variety of tools on the file to restore things to a state where we can merge the data back into the live database.

At this point, we are very happy to report that we have recovered data entered to Dedoose through March 30th. We are still working on the details of how these data will be safely merged into the master database.

The data that have been viewable on our staging environment (stage.dedoose.com/app) represent those that have been recovered for work added to Dedoose between March 2nd and March 30th. These data will be merged back into the live database beginning tonight at 8pm PST. It is necessary to shut down Dedoose services during this procedure which should last approximately 4 hours.

Terms of use in the cloud

Google Terms Of Service

20 April 2015 Google Terms Of Service

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through
our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide
license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works
(such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes
we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate,
publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.
The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating,
promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license
continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business
listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to
access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in
some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of
our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the
necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit
to our Services. 

In short, you retain IP over the content, but grant Google and those they work with the rights to use your content to develop and promote Google services.

These conditions have been present since 1 March 2012.

Microsoft Services Agreement

19 October 2012 Microsoft services agreement : http://tinyurl.com/8e4kucy

When you upload your content to the services, you agree that it may
be used, modifed, adapted, saved, reproduced, distributed, and
displayed to the extent necessary to protect you and to provide, protect
and improve Microsoft products and services. For example, we may
occasionally use automated means to isolate information from email,
chats, or photos in order to help detect and protect against spam and
malware, or to improve the services with new features that makes them
easier to use. When processing your content, Microsoft takes steps to
help preserve your privacy.

20 April 2015 Microsoft services agreement

3.1. Who owns my Content that I put on the Services? You do. Some Services
enable you to communicate with others and share or store various types of
files, such as photos, documents, music and video. The contents of your
communications and your files are your “Content” and, except for material
that we license to you that may be incorporated into your own Content (such
as clip art), we don't claim ownership of the Content you provide on the
Services. Your Content remains your Content, and you're responsible for it.

3.2. Who can access my Content? You have initial control over who may access
your Content. However, if you share Content in public areas of the Services,
through features that permit public sharing of Content, or in shared areas
available to others you’ve chosen, you agree that anyone you've shared Content
with may, for free, use, save, reproduce, distribute, display, and transmit
that Content in connection with their use of the Services and other Microsoft,
or its licensees’, products, and services. If you don't want others to have
that ability, don't use the Services to share your Content. You represent and
warrant that for the duration of this Agreement you have (and will have) all
the rights necessary for the Content you upload or share on the Services and
that the use of the Content, as contemplated in this section 3.2, won't violate
any law.

3.3. What does Microsoft do with my Content? When you transmit or upload Content
to the Services, you're giving Microsoft the worldwide right, without charge, to
use Content as necessary: to provide the Services to you, to protect you, and to
improve Microsoft products and services. Microsoft uses and protects your Content
as outlined in the Windows Services Privacy Statement, Bing Privacy Statement,
MSN Privacy Statement, and Office Services Privacy Statement
(collectively the “Privacy Statements”). 

In short, once you share data you give the people you shared it with the right to treat it as free for reuse.

DropBox Terms Of Service

DropBox Terms Of Service

24 April 2014 DropBox Terms of Service

When you use our Services, you provide us with things like your files, content,
email messages, contacts and so on ("Your Stuff"). Your Stuff is yours. These 
Terms don't give us any rights to Your Stuff except for the limited rights that
enable us to offer the Services.

We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and
sharing it when you ask us to. Our Services also provide you with features like
photo thumbnails, document previews, email organization, easy sorting, editing,
sharing and searching. These and other features may require our systems to access, 
store and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do those things, and this 
permission extends to trusted third parties we work with.


Our Services let you share Your Stuff with others, so please think carefully about
what you share. 

Archiving Data

BBC Domesday Project

1986 Project to do a modern-day Domesday book (early crowd-sourcing)
  • Used “BBC Master” computers with data on laserdisc
  • Collected 147,819 pages of text and 23,225 photos
  • Media expiring and obsolete technology put the data at risk!
Domesday Reloaded (2011) To allow long-term access to data
  • Don't use obscure formats!
  • Don't use obscure media!
  • Don't rely on technology being available!
  • Do keep original source material!

Google images for BBC Domesday

Sharing Data

Piwowar, Heather A., Roger S. Day, and Douglas B. Fridsma. Sharing detailed research data is associated with increased citation rate.
PLoS One 2.3 (2007): e308.

More To Read

Albers, S. Editorial: Well Documented Articles Achieve More Impact
BuR Business Research Journal, Vol. 2, No.2, May 2009

Anderson, Richard G., et al. The role of data/code archives in the future of economic research.
Journal of Economic Methodology 15.1 (2008): 99-119.

Borgman, Christine L. "The conundrum of sharing research data."
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 63.6 (2012): 1059-1078.

Campbell, Eric G., et al. "Data withholding in academic genetics."
JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association 287.4 (2002): 473-480.

Evanschitzky, Heiner, et al. Replication research's disturbing trend.
Journal of Business Research 60.4 (2007): 411-415.

Fischer, Beth A., and Michael J. Zigmond. "The essential nature of sharing in science."
Science and engineering ethics 16.4 (2010): 783-799.

Freckleton, R.P., P. Hulme, P. Giller and G. Kerby. 2005. The changing face of applied ecology.
J. Appl. Ecol. 42:1–3.

Gleditsch, N.P., C. Metelits and H. Strand. 2003. Posting your data: Will you be scooped or will you be famous?.
Int. Stud. Perspect. 4:89–97.

Lancaster, Larry, and Alan Rowe. Measuring Real World Data Availability.
Proceedings of the LISA 2001 15th Systems Administration Conference. 2001.

McCullough, Bruce D., Kerry Anne McGeary, and Teresa D. Harrison. Lessons from the JMCB Archive.
Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking 38.4 (2006): 1093-1107.

Piwowar, Heather A., and Wendy W. Chapman. "Public sharing of research datasets: a pilot study of associations."
Journal of informetrics 4.2 (2010): 148-156.

Piwowar, Heather A., et al. "Towards a data sharing culture: recommendations for leadership from academic health centers."
PLoS medicine 5.9 (2008): e183.

Schroeder, Bianca, and Garth A. Gibson. Disk failures in the real world: What does an MTTF of 1,000,000 hours mean to you.
Proceedings of the 5th USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies (FAST). 2007.

Vandewalle, Patrick, Jelena Kovacevic, and Martin Vetterli. "Reproducible research in signal processing."
Signal Processing Magazine, IEEE 26.3 (2009): 37-47.

Whitlock, Michael C. "Data archiving in ecology and evolution: best practices."
Trends in ecology & evolution 26.2 (2011): 61-65.

Whitlock, Michael C., et al. "Data archiving."
The American Naturalist 175.2 (2010): 145-146.

Wicherts, Jelte M., Marjan Bakker, and Dylan Molenaar. "Willingness to share research data is related to the strength of the evidence and the quality of reporting of statistical results."
PloS one 6.11 (2011): e26828.

Thatcher, 70 (1807): 167-168
Science 16 August 1929: Vol. 70 no. 1807 pp. 167-168
DOI: 10.1126/science.70.1807.167

Research Data in the Digital Age
Daniel Kleppner and Phillip A. Sharp
Science 24 July 2009: Vol. 325 no. 5939 p. 368
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178927

Sharing Research Data Urged
Science 16 August 1985: Vol. 229 no. 4714 p. 632
DOI: 10.1126/science.229.4714.632