Improving use of existing data
One of the barriers to comparative analysis is the difficulty in obtaining existing data. Our discussion group goal was to suggest ways that exchange of data could be facilitated. Data in the published literature are public domain and easily accessible if you have a library card, although finding enough published studies with exactly the data you need is ofttimes harder than doing the research yourself! Qualitative data (e.g., site descriptions, species lists) and public domain qualitative data (hydrologic and soil surveys, weather data) do not present much of a problem. However, obtaining unpublished quantitative data from individuals or research sites can be difficult and requires time, energy, and diplomacy.