Open data

We’ve been talking today about the move towards open data and how we can draw upon our experiences of trying to deliver open access publishing. Experience from the open access work we have done at the University of Nottingham tells us that we need to take a long term view of this. The open access work has been on-going for nearly ten years and even now there is resistance to publishing using this methodology. Achieving similar results for open data may inevitably take just as long and potentially has bigger hurdles to overcome since researchers build careers upon their IPR and the data they generate and hold.

Is ownership of data much more ingrained into their personal USP as a researcher who brings value to an organisation than perhaps publications are? Inherent in publishing is a certain “letting go” that is accepted as part of the process of being an academic researcher. Is it the case that this does not necessarily exist in the psyche for datasets?

So in light of this we’re seeking to identify ways in which researchers are already “open” with their data. For example depositing in national archives at the end of a project. In the current mindset this might be a tick box towards “sustainability” in the funding bid, but can we re-purpose that thinking and turn it to “being open with data”?

Does that then simplify the process of creating the “local repository” (and supporting metadata) such that the entry describes the dataset and where it is held, linking off to the national repository? Perhaps that is a small additional step that is achievable beyond what the researcher is already doing and can be a catalyst towards change and more openness? If so, then does that local repository become part of the framework we are striving for in ADMIRe for us to build a process around? A quick retrospective trawl might help us to get a quick win and build such a repository to show its potential.

Open access started on a “build it and they will come” approach, and perhaps we need to do the same for open data?