A summer of data sharing

Data comes to us in many shapes and forms (or formats) and you might find it surprising but some of the deposits we get still occasionally come via post rather than via our online deposition process or email. But what good comes from the paper copies for the users of our electronic database?



Depositions of datasets in CIF and other formats over the years


It is certainly true that not much can be learnt from old datasets if they are stored in forgotten filing cabinets or boxes. Therefore, CCDC has come up with an annual initiative to help preserve those datasets in the form that can be shared with the wider the community in exactly the same way as the data that you are used to seeing in ConQuest or Mercury. If you have used the CSD then you may have seen some of them already, handmade CIFs have been created by the Deposition Team and validated by Scientific Editors for many years and in the early days of the CSD all entries had to be hand-typed. More recently, we have started an annual summer programme to engage young scientists to help with these tasks over their summer vacation. This helps us to convert more hardcopy data into the CSD, it is a great way for summer students to experience work in a scientific organisation and they can earn some money to help fund their studies. This year we were delighted to welcome Cameron Wilson who spent his summer ploughing through documents and files (well photos of them since we are all homeworking due to the global pandemic) and turning them into CIFs. In just a few weeks Cameron created almost 500 handmade datasets ready for scientific validation. These datasets are all already available through our web service and some made it through in time for our most recent desktop update.

After his experience in building the database, this summer Cameron said: “I found working at the CCDC incredibly rewarding and I hugely enjoyed my time working there. As someone just beginning a PhD myself, I was very motivated by the importance of preserving this kind of data. Also adding so many structures to the database which may otherwise have remained ‘lost’ gave me a way to make real positive impact to the global scientific community, something that is very hard to achieve as a young scientist!” Certainly, this was not an easy project, but we hope it is of value to the community, we definitely think it is at the CCDC and clearly Cameron thought so too.

Some of the data added this year to our handmade CIFs collection comes from thesis papers where the structures may not have been a main topic of the science discussed so the CIFs had not been deposited or shared more widely. As a charitable organisation we want to play our part to help you share and access these otherwise forgotten structures.  We know, with over one million structures already stored in the CSD that each dataset has unique value and can help bring new knowledge and insights and therefore deserves our attention. So, a huge thanks to all the depositors and crystallographers who helped us share over 500 structures this summer. We have enjoyed receiving these yet to be recognised structures and, in some cases, hearing the stories behind them.

CSD refcode TUNYAF DOI: 10.5517/ccdc.csd.cc25qtg6 published  by Jingbo Chen, Jingchao Chen, Yan Xie, Hongbin Zhang, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, 2012, 51, 1024, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201106587


Now this year’s summer project has finished, and Cameron has gone off to start his PhD in  Crystallography it doesn’t mean we aren’t still here to support you.  Although we would always encourage electronic depositions where possible via our online deposition process you can send us hardcopy depositions at any time of year and our team of Deposition Coordinators will continue to help you get these into the CSD. If you would like to learn more about this, please visit our FAQ….