As self-effacement goes, it's hard to beat Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Yet while modern scientists continue to build on the concepts and ideas of their forerunners, they face a unique problem that Newton or his peers would not have anticipated – the inability to access crucial research data generated by other people's work.
Scientific research today typically yields enormous volumes of information, with individual projects easily able to generate gigabytes or terabytes of data. The problem for the scientific community is that the vast majority of this information never makes it into published research which tends, by necessity, to be limited to topline conclusions or summaries of the key findings. The raw data – including the data from hundreds of unsuccessful experiments – is left out, and is lost to the scientific community, and future researchers.