In 1912, Charles Dawson, an amateur antiquarian and solicitor, along with Arthur Smith Woodward, the Curator of Geology at the Natural History Museum of London, proclaimed the discovery of the ‘missing link’ bridging the gap between apes and humans. They claimed to have found a fragment of a skull resembling that of a human in Pleistocene gravel beds near Piltdown village in Sussex, England. Additionally, they uncovered mandible fragments that were posited to belong to the same individual.
“We were unable to reproduce your results, and I think the reason is that there is a bug in how you are calculating your correlation coefficients.” That was part of an email I got this summer that absolutely crushed me. It doesn’t take much empathy to feel that knot in your stomach and existential dread from imposter syndrome, especially if you are currently a graduate student, post-doc, or another early-career researcher.
The third annual SORTEE conference was held virtually in October 2023, continuously over 24 hours to cover all time zones. There were 266 registered participants from 36 countries. The conference programme included plenary talks, 5 workshops, 5 hackathons and 8 unconference sessions. During the closing sessions two winners were announced for the SORTEE “Student Award” and “Researcher Award”. These awards have been renamed and redesigned to increase transparency, equity and inclusions.
Open data offers immense opportunities for ecologists and evolutionary biologists. The more good quality data are available, the more questions can be answered—and at broader spatial and temporal scales and at greater taxonomic generality. However, making use of open data is far from straightforward. At this year’s SORTEE conference, Rose Trappes and Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar co-organized a productive unconference to tackle this complex topic. For that, they invited three experienced panellists: Matt Grainger, Antica Culina and Benno Simmons, and held a discussion about the opportunities and challenges of data reuse and data synthesis in the fast-moving world of open data.