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Using databases for data mining research

I was recently contacted by an academic researcher who would like 
to make use of electronic resources for data and/or text mining 
research. It would involve downloading large quantities of the 
vendor's data. I am not sure if they have a specific resource in 
mind yet and it's not yet clear to me what the research entails 
(the researcher contacted me right before leaving on vacation).

The researcher is unsure of how to approach a vendor with a 
proposal like this, and asked me for advice. I know UC-Irvine 
recently announced the results of a text mining project they did 
using data from the New York Times. How common is something of 
this nature, and do vendors generally comply with such requests?


Bernie Sloan