PubChem adds a “legacy” designation for outdated data

Sometimes information provided to PubChem by data contributors becomes outdated.  To address this, PubChem is introducing a “legacy” designation for collections that are not regularly updated.  This “legacy” designation applies to project/contributors that appear to no longer be active, as well as to their individual records.  This designation will help PubChem users quickly identify records that may have out-of-date information and/or hyperlinks.

Why a “legacy” designation?

PubChem Legacy Designation 1As an archive, PubChem accepts scientific data from contributors and maintains that data even if the contributing project is discontinued. While this helps ensure community access to the information lasts beyond the lifetime of a given scientific endeavor, the archival nature of PubChem does not allow anyone other than the data contributor to modify provided information.  Therefore, some records in PubChem can persist with outdated (or incorrect) data.  To help identify such cases, we are introducing a “legacy” indication for contributors and their records.  Please note that this does not mean that data identified as “legacy” is without value.  Quite to the contrary, some legacy collections successfully collected valuable scientific data for the research community, and are simply no longer updating the information.

How is a “legacy” designation determined?

A “legacy” designation is arrived at via a semi-manual, semi-automated procedure.  It involves aspects of examining contributor account information, individual records, and user reports.  For example, if the depositor website does not work for a period of time, attempts are made to contact the submitting organization.  If PubChem staff are unable to make contact with the data contributor or if an organization is no longer updating records, a legacy designation may be initiated.  Please note that a “legacy” designation can be removed at any time, when contact is reestablished and updates resume.

Impacts of legacy designation?

PubChem Legacy Designation 2If a data contributor is designated as “legacy”, all records deposited by the contributor are also designated as “legacy”.  While still searchable, these records will clearly indicate that they are “legacy”.  Please note that “legacy” records will not be shown in the “Chemical Vendors” section of Compound Summary pages.  In addition, in the “Substances by Category” section of the Compound Summary page, “legacy” substance records only will be found under “Legacy Depositors”.

Future plans?

The way PubChem implements both manual and automated processes to ascertain a “legacy” indication will likely evolve over time.  In addition, we are looking at the possibility of enabling users to separate out legacy records when searching and analyzing the database.

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