Longevity of Biological Databases

Teresa K. Attwood, Bora Agit, Lynda B.M. Ellis


Public Web-based databases are essential for present-day biological research: they i) store the results of past laboratory experiments; ii) guide the focus of future ones; and, iii) allow all to benefit from the wealth of information they contain. Many new databases are born each year; but how long do they live? This study looked at the 18-year survival of 326 databases. Over 60% were dead within that time period, and a further 14% were archived, no longer updated. Those that survived were, for the most part, important to their institution’s main focus, and had core institutional support. Database longevity depends on the existence of infrastructures that are underpinned by long-term financial strategies. Researchers and funders need to consider the ramifications for the security of their data, and of the financial investments in them, if they choose to create new databases independently of core infrastructures.


databases; database funding; database sustainability;NGS

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