Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, February 01, 2008

A nuanced call for open data

Stewardship of digital research data:  principles and guidelines, a new report from the Research Information Network, January 2008.  Excerpt:

...Developments in information and communications technologies are transforming the nature and scale of research, enhancing both quality and productivity. They are facilitating new kinds of research, new organisational models, and collaboration across disciplinary, institutional and national boundaries. But they also demand new ways of thinking about how we manage data and information outputs, so that we can maximise their value, and ensure that precious resources are not lost. In pursuance of those goals, the fundamental policy objective is to ensure that

Ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research should be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation, and scrutiny, as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable....

The five principles are set out below in an order that reflects the lifecycle through which digital research data are created, used and made accessible over the long term. We believe that the principles should be adopted by universities and other research institutions, libraries and data services, publishers, research funders, as well as researchers themselves....

Principle 3: access, usage and credit

24. In order to achieve the fundamental policy objective of availability and accessibility, it is essential that

Digital research data should be easy to find, and access should be provided in an environment which maximises ease of use; provides credit for and protects the rights of those who have gathered or created data; and protects the rights of those who have legitimate interests in how data are made accessible and used.

25. The policy objective requires that the research community as a whole, and any others who have an interest in the data should have timely, user-friendly access to relevant data, and at the lowest possible cost. Free and open access, without restriction as to use, should be the default option wherever possible. But the access objective does not imply that all data should be made available immediately to all those who may have an interest in it, and some restrictions on access may be legitimate or necessary. Indeed, there is a need to balance conflicting interests and rights, where some rights – of research institutions or funders, data owners or subjects, or researchers themselves – may trump others....