Practically Extinct small

Data sets produced in the course of research but never shared or made available outside of the initial research team

Group: Research Outputs

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

reduced riskTrend towards reduced risk

Previous classification: Practically Extinct


Trend in 2022:


reduced riskMaterial improvement


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is a priority.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Unpublished research data

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Replication and documentation; data management plan; preservation pathway agreed

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 as a subset of the ‘Unpublished Research Outputs’ reported in 2018, which was split into entries to draw attention to the different preservation requirements and concerns that arise. This entry relates specifically to research data which has not been shared or published by any means and is thus in contravention of the ‘FAIR’ principles which require data to be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. Without proper planning, research data can have a high barrier to re-use, especially where documentation is lacking. The Jury takes the view that documentation and re-use go hand in hand, and researchers should be under no illusions that data not documented or shared faces material and immediate risks of extinction. Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to address the risk of data loss, and it was the 2019 Jury’s hope that this is now a small group. The 2021 Jury agreed with the description and classification and did see that there has been a trend towards reduced risk in light of more robust collaborative initiatives to jointly address the risk of data loss in and across research communities.

2022 Trend

The 2022 Taskforce agreed on a trend towards reduced risk based on material improvement over the last year that have not only offered examples of good research data management and preservation practices but also suggest a significant shift towards culture of change and collaboration across different research communities and stakeholders. These include (but are not limited to) improvements and initiatives by the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), Science Europe, Research Data Alliance (RDA), Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and related projects on the preservation of research data and outputs.

Additional Comments

If we do not know it exists, does it exist? It may also be that in certain circumstances this includes data that is unfavourable and has intentionally not been published.

If perceived as high-value, someone in the research team will likely take steps to ensure it is protected. We can be proactive and offer advice, but ultimately it is down to them. We cannot keep everything!

This is a wide field, so the scale and impact are hard to describe, but the risk is higher than papers due to potential file format complexity.

Success is dependent on how successful an institution's research data management communications are. Advocacy and research are needed to show the scale of the problem, as well as education regarding open science and preservation.

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