Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The state of data sharing in Canada

Stewardship of Research Data in Canada:  A Gap Analysis, a report from Canada's Research Data Strategy Working Group, October 2008.  Also see the press release, January 12, 2009.  (Thanks to Stéphane Goldstein.)  From the report itself, Section IX on Access:

Ideal state:  There is widespread access to publicly funded research data, with appropriate mechanisms in place for regulating access that takes into account security, ethical, legal, and economic interests where appropriate.

Current state:

  • Much of the research data being produced today is hard to access by other Canadian research communities, and is often not ideally structured to be as useful or as open as possible....
  • There are large reservoirs of existing data not in current use and not available online.
  • Researchers are reluctant to share data because they feel it is their intellectual property.
  • Researchers lack the expertise to ensure that data are accessible by others in the future.
  • While there is a growing international trend towards free access to data held in repositories (e.g. GeoConnections), many repositories still charge fees for access...or restrict access to community members only (e.g. Statistics Canada and Natural Resources Canada).
  • Few research organizations have policies requiring researchers to provide access to data....

Comment.  The Working Group turned off cutting and pasting in the PDF report.  (Why?)  Normally under these circumstances I'd point you to the relevant pages and not bother to rekey an excerpt.  But the Working Group didn't paginate the report either.  (Why?)  This not a good sign of how well the Working Group understands the gap between the current state and the ideal state of information sharing.

Update (2/4/09).  Kathleen Shearer, the lead author of the report, has unlocked the PDF and added page numbers.  Thanks, Kathleen!