Category Archives: Open data

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:

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:

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:

Austin Open Data:
Federal Government Data:
Open Data Handbook:
The State of Open Data Report 2017:

Featured Project: Digital Rocks Portal

Digital Rocks is a data portal for fast storage and retrieval, sharing, organization and analysis of images of varied porous micro-structures. It has the purpose of enhancing research resources for modeling/prediction of porous material properties in the fields of Petroleum, Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as Geology.

This platform allows managing,  preserving, visualization and basic analysis of available images of porous materials and experiments performed on them, and any accompanying measurements (porosity, capillary pressure, permeability, electrical, NMR and elastic properties, etc.) required for both validation on modeling approaches and the upscaling and building of larger (hydro)geological models.

Read more about the project: 

NASA Launches Public Portal for Research Results

NASA-funded research data can now be accessed via their recently unveiled public web portal, PubSpace.  All authors of peer-reviewed papers resulting from research funded by NASA, starting in 2016, will be required to deposit copies of publications and associated data within one year of publication.

This archive of original science results will be available online without a fee. “Making our research data easier to access will greatly magnify the impact of our research,” said NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. “As scientists and engineers, we work by building upon a foundation laid by others.”


Open Data Button is here!

The Open Data Button has been launched in a beta release. This browser-based* application helps people find, request, and share research data with the click of a button. Following on from the Open Access Button, this experimental tool makes it easy to get at the data behind published research (even if it’s behind a paywall). If the data can’t be found online, the Button contacts the author and invites them to make it available via the Open Science Framework. Every request is tracked and the status made available, allowing researchers to see–and tell stories about–how their research is making an impact.

Read more and download here:

*Currently available only for Chrome; Firefox will be supported soon.

Travel Scholarship Available

Are you interested in creating better access to research and educational materials? Do you want to help make that a reality on the UT Austin campus? If so, please consider applying for a travel scholarship to attend OpenCon 2015. OpenCon is an academic conference for students and early career researchers about open access, open education, and open data. It takes place November 14th-16th in Brussels, Belgium.

The chosen applicant will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend the conference. Conference planners have designed the conference so that $2500 will cover all expenses. This conference is an excellent opportunity to learn more about open access, open education, and open data, and to learn how to advocate for these issues. The program includes keynote talks, panel discussions, workshops, and hackathons. Last year there was an opportunity to lobby at the US Congress and conference planners are trying to plan something similar this year with the international organizations in Brussels. It truly is an international conference – last year’s conference included attendees from 5 continents!

The UT Austin applicant chosen to attend OpenCon 2015 will be expected to share what they’ve learned once they return to Austin. The attendee may choose to host a presentation and/or panel discussion in either fall 2015 or in spring 2016. Library staff will be available to help coordinate the event, but the attendee is expected to do most of the content planning. The attendee will also be expected to give reports on the conference to both Student Government and to Graduate Student Assembly.


UT Austin graduate student or postdoc. Attendee must be able to travel internationally. Attendee agrees to coordinate a presentation and updates to undergraduate and graduate student government upon their return.

To apply:

Please send a 500 word essay detailing why you would be a good candidate to attend OpenCon2015. You may include any experience you have with open access, open education, or open data, and any ideas you might have for an event upon your return. Submit your essay and resume/CV to by August 15th, 2015. Applicants will be notified with a decision by Monday, August 31st. If you have questions about the conference or about the application process, please contact Colleen Lyon, 512-495-4244, or