Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Microattribution to facilitate open data

Compete, collaborate, compel, Nature Genetics, August 2007.  An editorial.  (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.)  Excerpt:

Procedures for microattribution need to be established by journals and databases so that data producers have an overwhelming incentive to deposit their results in public databases and thereby to receive quantitative credit for the use of every published data accession.

The excellent work of database designers at (for example) the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) offers researchers a range of stably funded and user-friendly data repositories in which data producers and annotators can be uniquely identified along with their data across the ubiquitous Web. Accession numbers to database entries are routinely used for data retrieval. They should now also be used to accrue quantitative credit for their authors in a systematic process of microattribution.

Every field of scientific discovery goes through three main stages. First, competitive discoveries result from innovations. Second, competitive collaborations are ventured in an important process of negotiated pooling of resources. Third, standards are agreed upon and data begin to be shared by agreed protocols and databases….

[F]unders are…in an excellent position to maximize the utility of the research they fund by insisting that it be rapidly deposited in public databases—in the case of genome sequences, in advance of the publications that bring credit to the data producers….

When requiring authors to deposit data in public databases, journals, databases and funders should ensure that quantitative credit for the use of every data entry will accrue to the relevant members of the data-producing and annotating teams….

Comment.  This is the second Nature journal in two days with an editorial supporting open access.  For the first, see Free Market Science, Nature Cell Biology, July 2007 (blogged here yesterday).