Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 15, 2006

OA data service wins ALPSP/Charlesworth Award

ALPSP has announced the ALPSP/Charlesworth and ALPSP Awards 2006.  One winner is an OA data service.  Excerpt:

ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation

...This year’s award was made to the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) for their Data Exchange, Quality Assurance and Integrated Data Publication (CIF and checkCIF).

The crystallographic information file (CIF) and associated data dictionaries allow the seamless transfer of information from experimental apparatus, through computation analysis, to database deposition and publication. CIF also allows the definition of quality standards for data deposition and publication and the deployment of mechanisms for checking compliance with such standards, via the checkCIF web accessible service. The main features of the standard are its well defined machine readable syntax, large collection of individually defined data names and the formalism which allows automatic validation of certain attributes of data. The standard has been extended to assist with routine aspects of editorial checking and peer review, which can now take place with much increased speed and confidence.

The judges were impressed with the way in which CIF and checkCIF are easily accessible and have served to make critical crystallographical data more consistently reliable and accessible at all stages of the information chain, from authors, reviewers and editors through to readers and researchers. In doing so, the system takes away the donkeywork from ensuring that the results of scientific research are trustworthy without detracting from the value of human judgement in the research and publication process.

The development and maintenance of CIF and checkCIF is sponsored by several publishers, but it is freely accessible to all. IUCr already works closely with other related structural science communities and is looking to extend this cooperation. The judges felt that in developing CIF and checkCIF, the IUCr has established an important example of data quality assurance with potential applications in other scientific, medical, and indeed social sciences publishing.