Digital technologies and investments in cyber- and information infrastructure have fundamentally changed how science is conducted. This change was noted in the National Science Foundation’s Cyberinfrastructure Vision for 21st Century Discovery, which stated that “…converging advances in networking, software, visualization, data systems, and collaboration platforms are changing the way research and education are accomplished.” Central to this transformation is scientific data.
Recent reports such as the National Academies report, Rising above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, reflect the pressing need to ensure an environment that is conducive to enabling the United States to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. This means that researchers, scientists, students, and members of the public must be empowered by having the full array of information resources including scientific data available to them to promote discovery and advance science, research, and education. To this end, many federal agencies are considering and/or implementing data policies.
NSF Data Sharing Policy
In Spring 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it would alter its data sharing policy to require data management plans (DMPs) in future grant proposals to the agency. The Association for Research Libraries has developed this guide primarily for librarians, to help them make sense of the new NSF requirement. It provides the context for, and an explanation of, the policy change and its ramifications for the grant-writing process. It investigates the role of libraries in data management planning, offering guidance in helping researchers meet the NSF requirement. In addition, the guide provides a resources page, where examples of responses from ARL libraries may be found, as well as guides for data management planning created by various NSF directorates and approaches to the topic created by international data archive and curation centers.
Science is based on building on, reusing and openly criticising the published body of scientific knowledge. For science to effectively function, and for society to reap the full benefits from scientific endeavours, it is crucial that science data be made open. By open data in science we mean that it is freely available on the public internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyse, re-process, pass them to software or use them for any other purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.
Information on Data Access
- ARL report to NSF: To Stand the Test of Time: Long-Term Stewardship of Digital Data Sets in Science and Engineering (Sept. 2006)
- Cornell University Library Data Working Group report: Digital Research Data Curation: Overview of Issues, Current Activities, and Opportunities for the Cornell University Library (June 2008)
- JISC report: Open Science at Web-Scale: Optimising Participation and Predictive Potential (Nov. 2009)
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), NARAtions: A Blog about Online Public Access to the Records of the US National Archives