Royal Society report on Science as an Open Enterprise

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Brian McMahon
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Royal Society report on Science as an Open Enterprise

Post by Brian McMahon » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:24 am

Richard Garrett, Chair of the IUCr Commission on Synchrotron Radiation, has drawn our attention to an important new report just released by The Royal Society: Science as an open enterprise ( ... se/report/), that discusses open access to data for science. The report has some key themes - mandating open access to publicly funded data collections to overcome researchers' desires to protect their own publishing interests, and the use of safe havens that limit data access to researchers with a legitimate interest in the data but who are subject to penalties if they breach confidentiality.

He also mentions that in 2010, a group of international funding bodies (led by the Wellcome Trust and including the National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Council) signed up to a 'joint statement of purpose' for sharing research data to improve public health ( ... 030690.htm).

These high-level policy reports do have a bearing on the activities of our Working Group, because they establish the wider background against which our analyses and recommendations should be set. One weakness of many of these studies (in my opinion) is that they often fail to distinguish between different categories of data (say, raw instrument output, processed data following standardised reduction/merging techniques, calibration data, derivative and model data, etc.). We see in an experimental science such as crystallography that these different categories can vary in scale by orders of magnitude, and that their relative importance may vary between different communities, and often has to be assessed on a rather granular, and even case-by-case, basis.

Ir is our hope that the DDDWG can produce a commentary on the relative importance of raw versus processed and derivative data that will help to inform some of these higher-level reports that take a very broad position across all of scientific research.

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