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Published April 2014 | Published
Journal Article Open

Ten Simple Rules for the Care and Feeding of Scientific Data


In the early 1600s, Galileo Galilei turned a telescope toward Jupiter. In his log book each night, he drew to-scale schematic diagrams of Jupiter and some oddly moving points of light near it. Galileo labeled each drawing with the date. Eventually he used his observations to conclude that the Earth orbits the Sun, just as the four Galilean moons orbit Jupiter. History shows Galileo to be much more than an astronomical hero, though. His clear and careful record keeping and publication style not only let Galileo understand the solar system, they continue to let anyone understand how Galileo did it. Galileo's notes directly integrated his data (drawings of Jupiter and its moons), key metadata (timing of each observation, weather, and telescope properties), and text (descriptions of methods, analysis, and conclusions). Critically, when Galileo included the information from those notes in Sidereus Nuncius, this integration of text, data, and metadata was preserved, as shown in Figure 1. Galileo's work advanced the "Scientific Revolution," and his approach to observation and analysis contributed significantly to the shaping of today's modern "scientific method".

Additional Information

© 2014 Goodman et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Published: April 24, 2014. This article is an outcome of an Exploratory Seminar called ''What to Keep and How to Analyze It: Data Curation and Data Analysis with Multiple Phases'' (http://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/exploratory-seminars/what-to-keep-and-how-to-analyze-it) organized by Xiao-Li Meng and Alyssa Goodman, held on May 9–10, 2013 at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. This article was written collaboratively, online, in the open, using Authorea. Every iteration of the writing procedure is logged and available in the online version of this article at https://www.authorea.com/3410. Funding: The authors received no specific funding for writing this manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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