Authors
Alisa Bokulich
Boston University
Wendy Parker
Virginia Tech
Abstract
We critically engage two traditional views of scientific data and outline a novel philosophical view that we call the pragmatic-representational view of data. On the PR view, data are representations that are the product of a process of inquiry, and they should be evaluated in terms of their adequacy or fitness for particular purposes. Some important implications of the PR view for data assessment, related to misrepresentation, context-sensitivity, and complementary use, are highlighted. The PR view provides insight into the common but little-discussed practices of iteratively reusing and repurposing data, which result in many datasets’ having a phylogeny—an origin and complex evolutionary history—that is relevant to their evaluation and future use. We relate these insights to the open-data and data-rescue movements, and highlight several future avenues of research that build on the PR view of data.
Keywords Data  Data Model  Data Processing  Evidence  Models  Representation  Legacy Data  Climate Science  Astrophysics  Geosciences  Pragmatism
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DOI 10.1007/s13194-020-00345-2
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How Models Are Used to Represent Reality.Ronald N. Giere - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):742-752.
Modelling and Representing: An Artefactual Approach to Model-Based Representation.Tarja Knuuttila - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):262-271.

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