Sharing data is often not as easy as it sounds. While it is usually not a problem to make available smaller data sets to a group of people or the public, it quickly becomes an issue if the sets grow in size.
If you need to make available a 9 Gigabyte archive for example, many of the traditional file sharing options become automatically unavailable to you.
You cannot use email or the majority of file synchronization services for example, and while you could set up a file server, it requires more work than you may want to invest, considering that you not only have to set up the server, but also maintain it and make sure it is secure.
Academic Torrents is an attempt to make academic datasets and papers available via BitTorrent. When you open the site you are greeted with a short introduction of what the site is, and what it has to offer.
Here is a short introductory video that explains what Academic Torrents is.
The three core features of Academic Torrents are:
You can use the search form at the top to find information by name, author or dataset, or use the browse feature instead to browse the datasets, papers or collections directly.
A collection is a user-curated set of data sets. Examples are the Nasa datasets or UCI Machine Learning datasets.
Each set of data includes Bibtex, as well as additional information and references. Files can be downloaded right away with a click on the download link.
Account sign-up options are provided, which provide you with the means to leave comments on the site, and to upload data to it.
Currently, more than 200 Gigabytes of research data are made available. That sounds like a lot, but is fairly limited when you look at the datasets that are offered by Academic Torrents.
Much of the success of the service depends on its reception in the academic world. If additional researchers or Universities start to make use of it, it could become a digital global academic library of sorts that is publicly accessible and not only limited to researchers and people in academia.
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