Open Data and Open Access Week

As part of our OA Week 2017 celebrations, we want to talk about how open data contributes to the open agenda. Open data are freely available to use, repurpose, and republish. Open Definition defines it as “data that can be freely used, re-used, and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike”.

Many calls to increase the amount of open data have been based on a desire to improve the transparency and reproducibility of research. In those cases, access to the data isn’t enough. There needs to be associated documentation that provide the user with enough information to be able to reproduce the original experiment or data processing.

The White House issued a memo in 2013 to expand public access to federally funded research. This directed all funding agencies that spend more than $100 million on R&D to develop a plan for how the results of that research would be shared. Many of these agencies now have information available online advising researchers on how to comply with the requirements and make their work more usable.

Journals are also starting to come up with data sharing policies for the articles they publish. Authors submitting articles to those journals should be prepared to also share the data that the article is based on. The Open Access Directory has a list of journal data policies: http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Journal_open-data_policies.

In order to facilitate data sharing, the Linux Foundation recently announced the launch of Community Data License Agreements. These licenses are designed to enable sharing in the same way that open source software licenses have enabled sharing. Right now there are two available licenses: a CDLA-Sharing license and a CDLA_permissive license.

Universities and libraries have contributed to open data efforts by providing technology infrastructure, expert consultants, handouts and templates to make the process of sharing data easier. The UT Libraries have teamed up with the Texas Advanced Computing Center, Information Technology at UT, and Office of the Vice Provost for Research to provide Research Data Services to the UT campus community. In conjunction with the Texas Digital Library, we also offer the Texas Data Repository as a data archiving and sharing option for our researchers. The Texas Data Repository is just one of many data repositories that exist to help researchers share their data. re3data offers a fairly comprehensive list of possible data repositories: https://www.re3data.org/.

Open data has the potential to move science forward, to improve the integrity of scientific research by allowing for the verification of research results, to improve the return on investment by reducing duplication of effort, and to enhance the visibility of research efforts by making data easier to find, use, and cite.

If you are interested in learning more about open data, here are a few helpful resources:

SPARC: https://sparcopen.org/open-data/
Austin Open Data: https://data.austintexas.gov/
Federal Government Data: https://www.data.gov/open-gov/
Open Data Handbook: http://opendatahandbook.org/
The State of Open Data Report 2017: https://figshare.com/articles/The_State_of_Open_Data_Report_2017/5481187