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Working paper Open Access

The vital role of primary experimental data for ensuring trust in (Photon & Neutron) science

Gotz, Andy; Helliwell, John; Richter, Tobias; Taylor, Jonathan

The foundation of experimental science is data and the progress of science relies upon a study being reproducible by others’ analysis of the same data. Replicability, on the other hand, comes from independent groups performing their own experiments on the same phenomenon. Reproducibility is not guaranteed in science and recently reproducibility, let alone replicability, has been called into question in a recent Nature group survey indicated that a majority (70%) of respondents had failed to reproduce published results and many (>50%) could not reproduce their own experimental results. Whilst a single survey cannot be taken as indication of an endemic issue, improvements in key areas such as data management can ameliorate trust in science.

This paper makes the case for photon and neutron sources to provide raw experimental data as the ground truth for science based on data from photon and neutron sources. It explains why and how this is possible and provides a table summarising the situation at the different sources world-wide. The paper arguments that with the evolving scientific landscape and current technologies, providing raw data for re-use is not any more a question of if but when.

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