Friday, 20 April 2018

Hippocratic Oath for Research Data

(a not entirely serious output of International Data Week 2016*, see also Should there be an Oath for Scientists and Engineers?  and A Hippocratic Oath for life scientists )
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:...
I will respect the hard-won research gains of those researchers in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will make no assertion without evidence.
I will apply, for the benefit of all, all measures which are required to preserve and make usable research data, avoiding those twin traps of data hoarding and unhelpful data description.
I will remember that there is art and craft to data management as well as science, and that humans as well as machines need to be able to interpret and use the data, now and in the future.
I will welcome opportunities to say "I know not," never failing to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed to assist in data sharing, dissemination or management.
I will respect the privacy of those who provide personal or sensitive data to me, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death, not only of humanity, but also of the global ecosystem. Above all, I must not play at God (even if I create a data management system or infrastructure that allows me to do so).
I will remember that I do not manage a stream of bytes, but a whole story of data collection, analysis and interpretation. My responsibility includes these related research objects (such as software, workflows, project plans, etc.), if I am to care adequately for the data and the results and conclusions resulting from it.
I will prepare for data management in advance whenever I can, simply because it will make my life, and others’, easier.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, as well as the research record.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of research and help make the world a better place.
(based on the Modern Hippocratic Oath, written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University) _________________________
* yes, it's been a while since I wrote this, or have blogged, for that matter! But I've decided to pick this blog up again and figure that this bit of fluff is a good place to start.

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