”Publishing research without data is simply advertising, not science”
Is it so? Is publishing research results without research data just marketing and not science as Graham Steel says. The statement is a modification of what Claire Bower said: ”Publishing articles without making the data available is scientific malpractice”. I think that these two are trying to say that making research data available is the next step in making science open access.
To make research data available is based on the idea to make it possible for others to reproduce the results and to test the reliability of the results but also to get more out of research data. Also, it has to do with getting better understanding e.g. of research field where negative results are rarely published, i.e. biomedicine. To be able to reproduce results better management of research results and linking between research data and publication is needed. There is also a need to be able to find research data, to know who has collected the data and a possibility to cite the data the same way as research results are cited.
Last summer EU invited interested parties to discuss open research data, e.g. researchers, research funders, system developers and librarians. Their input is important and will have effect on the coming big EU research funding programme Horizon 2020. The starting points for the discussions were the following questions:
- How can we define research data and what types of research data should be open?
- When and how does openness need to be limited?
- How should the issue of data re-use be addressed?
- Where should research data be stored and made accessible?
- How can we enhance data awareness and a culture of sharing?
Sweden has signed OECD’s declaration on access to research data from public funding. The declaration’s main point is to support access and sharing of research data. Those who have signed it have also committed to working for making digital research data available according to the goals ad principles listed in the declaration, i.e. openness, international standards, rules and areas of responsibility for all involved parties.
It was clear in the discussions that commercial data or data which can be traced back to an individual should be kept secret but some aggregated data should be open. There was also talk about embargo periods for data coming from co-operation between public and private enterprise so that investors could still be attracted finance research.
Something which should be thought about when discussing research data is that the one collecting the data has the best understanding of data’s limitations, which might not be clear to those who are second or even third in line to analyze the data. Therefore, analyzing research data should be embarked on with caution.
Making research data available has bigger obstacles on the road than open access due to the exceptions to personal integrity, business and national secrets, commercial interests, intellectual property law and all the other arguments lawyers can come up to keep research data way from the obligations of open access.