PP2_0.1: Why Scientific Data should be Open

Typed into Arcturus

This post is a first outline – not even a draft – of a proposed Panton Paper on “Why Scientific Data should be Open”

This outline is largely a rework of material that I first exposed on a Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_science_data ) in late 2006 (when “Open Data” was essentially unknown). I was then invited to publish it in Serials Review 10.1016/j.serrev.2008.01.001

Which will cost you about 31.50 USD to read. I also pre-posted this to Nature precedings http://precedings.nature.com/documents/1526/version/1/html

which is less pretty but costs 0.00 USD. Take your choice.

I advanced some arguments for why scientific data should be Open and would welcome feedback. They are about 3.5 years old and if nothing else need updating. During these years we have developed the Panton Principles which should that there is a need for categorising and formalising both what to do with open Data and what it is.



The reasons for making data Open are several and any piece of data may have more than one of the following motives:

  • Many (?all) scientific data can be deemed to belong to the commons (“the human race”) (e.g. the human genome, medical science, environmental data)
  • They have an infrastructural role essential for scientific endeavour (e.g. in Geographic
    Information Systems and maps)
  • Data published in scientific articles are factual and therefore not
    copyrightable (the previous PPaper made this argument).
  • Public money was used to fund the work and so it should be universally available.
  • It was created by or at a government institution (this is common in US National
    Laboratories and government agencies)
  • Sponsors of research do not get full value unless the resulting data are freely
  • Restrictions on data re-use create an anticommons and the rate of discovery is accelerated by better access to data.

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