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News from the open access movement

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Open data at ESOF 2008

Alma Swan has blogged some notes on her open-data session at the EuroScience Open Forum 2008 (Barcelona, July 18-22, 2008).  Excerpt:

...I organised a session on open research data. The session reflected three perspectives - those of a researcher, a science publisher and a research funder.

Representing research, Peter Murray-Rust spoke about the ways in which data contained within the body of scientific articles can be mined and mashed by clever software (some of it developed by his doctoral students) to create new understandings and knowledge. He thanked the publishers who permit this and help to make it possible, but not all of them do. Peter spoke not from slides but using a series of web pages to illustrate his points, so the most useful link to his material is his recent article on the topic of Open Data in Nature Precedings.

Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature, gave a publisher's perspective on data, emphasising that Nature aims to assist the sharing of data wherever possible. He explained Nature's considerable efforts to help the development of Open Data over the last four years and gave examples of how Nature editors deal with scientists who do not comply with Nature's requirement for them to make supporting data openly available when they submit their articles. Philip also touched on the logistic and technical issues that publishers have to deal with, some of which are challenging.

Finally, Max Voegler from the German research funder DFG (Deutscheforschungsgemeinschaft) gave a funder's view on data. He explained why the DFG thinks sharing data is important, and covered issues such as ownership of data, giving due recognition for data and what long-term views on data must take into account. The last topic here involves the issues of funding, where data will be collected and who will be responsible for looking after them. A sustainable future for data - and who knows when a particular dataset might be required again? - is not a simple matter and funders need to think and plan carefully to ensure that the best systems are in place to ensure data are curated and archived optimally.