Experimental processes in the life sciences are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, recording, archiving and sharing descriptions of these processes and of the results of experiments is becoming ever more challenging. However, validation of results, sharing of best practice and integrated analysis all require systematic description of experiments at carefully determined levels of detail. The present paper discusses issues associated with the management of experimental data in the life sciences, including: the different tasks that experimental data and metadata can support, the role of standards in informing data sharing and archiving, and the development of effective databases and tools, building on these standards.

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