Computer models and simulations have become, since the 1960s, an essential instrument for scientific inquiry and political decision making in several fields, from climate to life and social sciences. Philosophical reflection has mainly focused on the ontological status of the computational modeling, on its epistemological validity and on the research practices it entails. But in computational sciences, the work on models and simulations are only two steps of a longer and richer process where operations on data are as important as, and even more time and energy-consuming than modeling itself. Drawing on two study cases—computational embryology and computational epidemiology—this article contributes to filling the gap by focusing on the operations of producing and re-using data in computational sciences. The different phases of the scientific and artisanal work of modelers include data collection, aggregation, homogenization, assemblage, analysis and visualization. The article deconstructs the ideas that data are self-evident informational aggregates and that data-driven approaches are exempted from theoretical work. More importantly, the paper stresses the fact that data are constructed and theory laden not only in their fabrication, but also in their reusing.

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