The background for their note is the editorial of D. Longo and J. Drazen – two editors of the New England Journal of Medicine – published in January 2016. In the editorial, Longo and Drazen critically assessed the concept of data sharing in medicine. Their main concern is that a “new class of research person will emerge” that uses data, which were gathered by other researchers, for their own original research questions. The authors, although indirectly, later referred to this class of researcher as “research parasites”.
Fecher and Wagner argue contrarily: For them, the two editors of the New England Journal of Medicine miss the core of the scientific paradigm when writing that researchers may “even use the [open] data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited.” Instead, Fecher and Wagner argue that data users are research symbionts and benefit the research ecosystem: Using research data to try to disprove a result is good scientific practice, especially in light of the replication crisis (not only) in the social sciences.
A longer version of the Fecher’s and Wagner’s note is available open access (working paper).