Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

ANU recommends open data

ANU Data Management Manual:  Managing Digital Research Data at the Australian National University, Version 1.0, July 22, 2008.  Excerpt:

3.1.4 Exposure

Creating a website for your research and placing your publications and research data in an archive greatly increases the exposure of your research. Research has shown that Open Access (OA) publications receive 2-3 times as many citations as articles that are only available via journal subscription.

3.2 Benefits of Data Archiving & Sharing

Data sharing makes for good research as it allows for independent verification of results and conclusions and further analysis through the reuse of data.

An excellent list of the benefits of data sharing is given by the ICPSR's Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving [2005]:

  • Reinforces open scientific inquiry. When data are widely available, the self-correcting features of science work most effectively.
  • Encourages diversity of analysis and opinions. Researchers having access to the same data can challenge each other's analyses and conclusions.
  • Promotes new research and allows for the testing of new or alternative methods. Examples of data being used in ways that the original investigators had not envisioned are numerous.
  • Improves methods of data collection and measurement through the scrutiny of others. Making data publicly available allows the scientific community
    to reach consensus on methods.
  • Reduces costs by avoiding duplicate data collection e orts. Some standard datasets, such as the General Social Survey and the National Election Studies, have produced literally thousands of papers that could not have been produced if the authors had to collect their own data. Archiving makes known to the field what data have been collected so that additional resources are not spent to gather essentially the same information.
  • Provides an important resource for training in research. Secondary data are extremely valuable to students, who then have access to high-quality data as a model for their own work....

4.3.1 Data Sharing Methods

Data Dissemination is actively making your data accessible to others. Some researchers make their datasets available via their personal or group websites. Data sharing is done in 3 ways:

  • Email request - Interested researchers email and request the dataset. This is the most common way that data is shared.
  • Website - Researchers place datasets on their website that anyone can download.
  • Archiving -  Researchers place their dataset in an archive.

Archiving is the preferred option as most archives serve the dual purpose of data preservation and dissemination. Their archives usually have a search utility and are often indexed by the major web search engines, thus increasing the chances of other researchers using and crediting your datasets and publications. Archiving datasets also means the dataset owner does not need to maintain a website and can specify a wide range of access controls. If your dataset is online, then including the link in your publications will greatly increase its use and exposure....

4.3.2 Copyright & Licencing

The owner of any original data holds copyright over that data from the time the data is created....Licences grant permission for others to use the copyrighted data. Open Content Licences are an easy way for researchers to licence their data for others to use....The most notable open content licences are

  • Creative Commons - most popular open content licences
  • Science Commons - similar to Creative Commons but tailored for scientific data and publications.
  • GNU Free Documentation Licence - used by Wikipedia....

Comment.  Very well-done.  The only weak spot is that the authors don't seem aware that Science Commons now recommends the public domain, rather than open licenses, for data.  See for example its Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data from December 2007.