Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, December 19, 2008

Moore Foundation adopts an open data mandate

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation adopted an open data policy on September 18, 2008.  (Thanks to Donna Okubo.)  Excerpt:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s (GBMF) goals of scientific advancement, environmental conservation, and healthcare improvement will best be served through a culture of open access to data. It is our philosophy that:

  • All data used in or developed in whole or in part by GBMF funded projects (and that can be shared in a manner consistent with applicable laws) will be made widely available and freely shared as soon as possible[1]. If data used in GBMF-funded projects are owned by an additional party other than the grantee, GBMF does not require it to be released, but the grantee will use its best efforts to encourage the data owners to make it openly and freely available.
  • Data are shared with full and proper attribution to the data provider.
  • Data developed in whole or in part by GBMF grant funding are the property of the grantee unless otherwise specified. The grantee may protect its property through patent, copyright and/or other intellectual property protection instruments, except that it may not impede the effective access and use of the data by the public.
  • GBMF is not responsible for any liabilities associated with errors in the data or misrepresentations or misinterpretations of publicly available data.
  • GBMF supports grant funding for costs associated with data sharing and open access publication of scientific findings, where appropriate.
  • GBMF and prospective grantees will jointly develop a Data Management and Sharing Plan prior to the finalization of a grant agreement.

The Data Sharing Philosophy applies to all activities that are financially supported in whole or in part by GBMF....

As part of the GBMF grant development process, potential grantees are required to develop a Data Management and Sharing Plan (the Plan) with their GBMF program officer....

[1].  Examples of when data should be released: For data created for scientific and environmental conservation purposes, six months from the time of collection, defined as the time when data enters an electronic database....Date of acceptance for publication of the main findings....For DNA sequence data, public release (as defined by submission to an appropriate public database) must occur not more than six months after “completion” (defined specifically in Grant) of the DNA sequence determination.

Comment.  Kudos for this strong policy.  Note that it only applies to data, not to peer-reviewed articles (except for the offer to pay publication fees).  But I hope the Foundation will consider extending it to cover peer-reviewed articles as well.  Note too that it does not require the data to be assigned to the public domain, as Science Commons would.  While I support the SC approach, the Moore approach is a reasonable second-best:  letting grantees hold whatever IP rights in their data the law allows, but not letting them use those rights to impede effective public access.  That may take some refinement in practice.  For example, does an attribution license impede effective public access for a collaborative, public dataset with thousands of contributors?