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An Opening for Open Data

The conference theme for IASSIST 2007, Building Global Knowledge Communities with Open Data, is very timely given new interest in defining and describing the open data concept. This week Peter Murray-Rust, who spearheads the SPARC-Opendata discussion list, posted a message announcing his entry for Open Data in the Wikipedia and inviting others to contribute to this entry.

Robin Rice responded to Peter's message with a copy of the IASSIST call for papers, which resulted in the following obervation from Peter: "Many of [the topics in the call for papers] have a close overlap with the topics at the Science Commons meeting and it is clear that Open Data is likely to become more widely used. It will be particularly interesting to see what comes from the principles of open data, which I think is a key area the list should be concentrating on. It will be very useful if these can be formulated in such as way that they complement (or extend) things like the Open Access declarations."

The Science Commons meeting to which Peter is referring occurred October 2-3, 2006 in Washington, D.C.

Also announced on the SPARC-Opendata list yesterday was the release of the final report from the ARL-NSF consultation from the end of September 2006. To Stand the Test of Time: Long-term Stewardship of Digital Data Sets in Science and Engineering is available at the ARL website (see our blog entry Academic libraries and data for more information about this consultation.)

- Chuck Humphrey


Not sure who’s the

Not sure who’s the appropriate person to open the dialogue w/the Wikipedia author. Anyone. Take it from J. Random Nobody on the Internet, if Peter Murray-Rust took me seriously when I started writing and thinking about Open Data issues (and he did), then he'll be only too happy to hear from anyone at IASSIST!

I'd say yes to having IASSIST

I'd say yes to having IASSIST listed as a related organization as, I think I gathered from Ann's comment, we want to be in on the conversation. I imagine the Open Data Foundation might too. Not sure who's the appropriate person to open the dialogue w/the Wikipedia author.

Check out this article: "A

Check out this article: "A fair share", Nature, December 7, 2006 And an excerpt "Open Data in Psychology:"

And of course please note the

And of course please note the good work of our colleagues who set up the Open Data Foundation: "The Open Data Foundation (ODaF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the adoption of global metadata standards and the development of open-source solutions promoting the use of statistical data. We focus on improving data and metadata accessibility and overall quality in support of research, policy making, and transparency, in the fields of economics, finance, healthcare, education, labor, social science, technology, agriculture, development, and the environment. Ideally, it should be possible for a user to easily perform tasks such as: * Discover the existence of data * Access the data for research and analysis * Find detailed information describing the data and its production processes * Access the data sources and collection instruments from which and with which the data was collected, compiled, and aggregated * Effectively communicate with the agencies involved in the production, storage, distribution of the data * Share knowledge with other users The Open Data Foundation exists to help realize this vision, working in cooperation with standards initiatives and other interested parties."

Open Data is used in

Open Data is used in different contexts and the concepts are worth spelling out. The SPARC Open Data Email Discussion List's first page says: "Many advocates of Open Data believe that, although there are substantial potential benefits from sharing and reusing digital data upon which scientific advances are built, today much of it is being lost or underutilized because of legal, technological and other barriers. Beginning in October 2005, the new discussion list will enable participants to debate issues of access to and re-use of research data that researchers or funders wish to see available for use by others."

I like how their emphasis is upon identifying the 'legal, technological, and other barriers' to data sharing, access, use, and reuse of research data. This parallels the concerns we have struggled with over the decades in the social sciences. We aren't limited to the concerns of access to data from federal agencies and other formal data producers (NORC, public opinion firms, national statistical agencies), but are also turning to the problems of access and sharing of data from funded research of all sorts and across domains.

Whether it is through the development of metadata schemas, promoting the concept of the 'archivist on board' view of data life cycle management, cross domian resource discovery, or focusing upon the professional infrastructure supporting open data concepts, IASSIST has been alert to and highly influential in articulating these themes at our conferences.

Nice title, Chuck

Nice title, Chuck :-) Question - do we want IASSIST to be on the list of organisations supporting open data on the wikipedia entry? The easy answer is yes, but of course we do often support various restrictions to data access in our organisation's policies, justified by all sorts of responsible thoughts like respondent confidentiality and disclosure control and other ethical considerations about the ability of the user to 'data mine' information about individuals, supporting the sponsor's wish to know who's using the data, and the desire to have the user agree to certain terms and conditions of (responsible) use, etc. I don't really know if the Open Data movement conflicts with these desires or not? Perhaps it is pushing at the boundaries of these restrictions to challenge our norms; to restrict data less and open it up as much as is ethically possible. So perhaps we should put a link into the Open Data conference site when it is up, as an "activity supporting open data" and hopefully we will all understand our position better after the conference. -Robin Rice Edinburgh University Data Library

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