Making Data Available:

The Tulane Law Review controversy brings up an important point, which commenter Frog Leg noted: Shouldn't law reviews make a practice of including the raw data supporting an article's assertions in an Appendix, at least so long as the data wouldn't take more than several pages?

That way, law reviews would be reminded of their responsibility to check the data, and readers will find it more consistently accessible. Putting on the Web is nice, but it involves various risks, including a risk that the law review editors won't feel it to be their responsibility to check it -- and the risk that it will get taken down. As it happens, though the law reviewarticle states that "The table will be available without charge on the Tulane Law Review's Web site ... for one year from publication," the law review has taken down the original table in the wake of the errors that have been discovered. This makes it harder for future researchers to closely follow the course of the controversy; even if the revised table is eventually posted, it will be hard for people to see what errors had originally been made.

Had all the cases been included in a short appendix, the data would have been permanently available the same way the text is permanently available. Of course, if there were a practice of putting the data online while still having it be cite-checked, and still having a firm promise on the law review's part that the data will be permanently retained -- perhaps in some centralized repository from which the data couldn't vanish as a result of law review decisions, or for that matter law review technical errors -- that might be as good or better. But for now, putting the material in the article's text remains the most traditional and most reliable way of preserving the data, and seems quite sensible for datasets that don't take more than several pages.