Parasitic Re-use of Data? Institutionalizing Toadyism.

Data Sharing by Dan L. Longo, M.D., and Jeffrey M. Drazen, M.D, N Engl J Med 2016; 374:276-277 January 21, 2016 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1516564.

This editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine advocates the following for re-use of medical data:


How would data sharing work best? We think it should happen symbiotically, not parasitically. Start with a novel idea, one that is not an obvious extension of the reported work. Second, identify potential collaborators whose collected data may be useful in assessing the hypothesis and propose a collaboration. Third, work together to test the new hypothesis. Fourth, report the new findings with relevant coauthorship to acknowledge both the group that proposed the new idea and the investigative group that accrued the data that allowed it to be tested. What is learned may be beautiful even when seen from close up.

I had to check my calendar to make sure April the 1st hadn’t slipped up on me.

This is one of the most bizarre and malignant proposals on data re-use that I have seen.

If you have an original idea, you have to approach other researchers as a suppliant and ask them to benefit from your idea, possibly using their data in new and innovative ways?

Does that smack of a “good old boys/girls” club to you?

If anyone uses the term parasitic or parasite with regard to data re-use, be sure to respond with the question:

How much do dogs in the manger contribute to science?

That phenomena is not unknown in the humanities nor in biblical studies. There was a wave of very disgusting dissertations that began with “…X entrusted me with this fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls….”

I suppose those professors knew their ability to attract students based on merit versus their hoarding of original text fragments better than I did. You should judge them by their choices.

One Response to “Parasitic Re-use of Data? Institutionalizing Toadyism.”

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