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Table 1 Personal experience

From: “Available upon request”: not good enough for microbiome data!

The following example was picked, because it represents a high-profile microbiome project with one of the most extensive collections of microbial sequence and health-related human background data to date [1]. As such, it could be a tremendous resource for extended research by the scientific community and has been of interest to on-going projects by the authors of this editorial.
Instead of simply obtaining the data through direct download from one of the existing publicly funded repositories, we were forced to undertake several time-consuming tasks. Here are the steps we took to obtain a particular dataset before eventually giving up:
1. Sent an email requesting the data and our intended use of the data.
 • Wait 1 month for response.
2. Obtained response indicating that we need to first fill out a three-page form including what data we want, the title of our project, a summary of the research proposal, our expertise in analyzing this data, and a recent publication record.
 • Wait 2 months for approval.
3. Were then sent a “Data Transfer Agreement” that needs to be signed by our institution.
 • Wait 2 weeks for reply from institution.
4. Were asked to provide a copy of ethical approval for our project, which we do not have and would not need if the data were publicly available.
 • Instead of waiting yet another month for ethics approval, we decide to abandon this dataset for our scientific plan.