OA Week 2018: Going to the Source

Open data is defined as “research data that is freely available on the internet; permits any user to download, copy, analyze, re-process, pass to software or use for any other purpose; and is without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself” (Open Data). Many funding agencies (NIH, NSF) and journals (Nature, Science) now mandate that researchers share their data upon completion of a research project.

So, what are some of our goals when we make data open?

  • Increasing transparency and public trust in the scientific process,
  • Providing research access to historically excluded user groups, and
  • Making space for previously unexplored areas of scholarship through the promotion of collaboration and interdisciplinarity.

By allowing for and encouraging the free use and reuse of data, we give users the opportunity to more fully understand a researcher’s methods and to draw their own (potentially different) conclusions by engaging directly with the source materials.

To accomplish these goals, however, we need a place to keep all this open data. Open data repositories are quickly growing in popularity and use. Last year, UT got its own in the form of the Texas Data Repository. While only current UT students, faculty, and staff can freely host and share their own research data here, anyone can view and download posted datasets. Uploaded datasets are also assigned their own DOI so they can be cited in future research, and data creators can receive credit for citable content, further incentivizing and normalizing data sharing in the research process.

Other popular open data repositories include The Dataverse Project, Dryad, and ICPSR.

To search or browse a registry of open data repositories, visit re3data.org.