The US government-funded National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has recently announced that it will be withdrawing funding for its Sequence Read Archive (SRA), its repository for short read sequencing data. At BioMed Central we hold that the free availability of data is a key requirement for scientific work, and so we have been routinely asking authors submit their data to the SRA. The closure of the SRA will thus affect authors and journals’ policies on data availability.
To try to clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding the NCBI’s announcement, Genome Biology canvassed the opinions of five scientists with interest in the closure of the database, either through being involved in maintenance of the database itself, or as users of it. These opinions have been published today in an editorial. The editorial addresses the options for data storage in the short term, but also touches on the long-term feasibility of storing data in the current climate of ever-expanding quantities of sequencing data being generated. As you will see, everybody has slightly different opinions on the issues at stake, but some consensus has emerged. In the short term, the European Nucleotide Archive and the DNA Data Bank of Japan will continue to accept international submissions of short read data. In the longer term, there seems to be some agreement that continuing to store data indefinitely will turn out to be unfeasible, with one alternative suggestion being that DNA samples should be stored and resequenced should the data be needed again.
While the advent of next generation sequencing has revolutionized the genomics field, the closure of the SRA has highlighted the downstream problems associated with this technology. These data archiving problems must be addressed soon if the scientific community is to continue to benefit from the wealth of sequencing data being generated.