... and then what?

Nov 17 2009 Published by under Tactics

It can be difficult to convince present-focused researchers to give a long-term perspective, such as that of a librarian or archivist, the time of day. (So to speak.) Here's my favorite way to do it: the "… and then what?" game.

You have digital data. You think it's important. We'll start from there.

  • Your grant runs out… and then what?
  • The graduate student who's been doing all the data-management chores leaves with Ph.D in hand… and then what?
  • Your favorite grant agency institutes a data-sustainability requirement for all grants… and then what?
  • Your lab's PI retires… and then what?
  • Your instrument manufacturer or favorite software's developer goes out of business… and then what?
  • Your whomped-up next-door data center burns up, falls down, then sinks into the swamp… and then what?

You get the idea. No far-fetched catastrophizing, just all-too-plausible scenarios that researchers really ought to have thought about already but usually haven't. If your service can position itself as the "… and then what," you're on to something.

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