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Open Data in a Big Data World

‘Big data’ has emerged as a major opportunity for scientific discovery, while ‘open data’ will enhance the efficiency, productivity and creativity of the public research enterprise and counteract tendencies towards the privatisation of knowledge. In addition, concurrent open publication of the data underpinning scientific papers can provide the basis of scientific ’self correction’. For organisations, individuals and society to maximise the benefits of big data, however, will depend on the extent to which there is open access to publicly-funded scientific data.

This collaborative initiatives brought together top-level representatives of three international science organizations: the International Science Council (ISC,) the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

The theme of the first collaborative initiative in this series was ‘Big Data/Open Data’. Through the initiative, an international, interdisciplinary team developed an accord on the values of open data in the emerging scientific culture of big data. The resulting accord – Open Data in a Big Data World – proposes an international framework of principles. It reflects our belief that in an era of big data research, open data is essential to allow rigorous independent testing and replication of findings, and to support the full participation of low- and middle-income countries in the global research enterprise.

Following the publication of the accord, the partner organizations – under the banner of ‘Science International’ – set out on a campaign seeking organizational endorsements for the principles set out in the accord “Open Data in a Big Data World”.

An international Accord

In this regard, there are a growing number of calls from various actors, both within and outside the scientific community, and from inter-governmental bodies such as the G8, the OECD and the UN, for open access to publicly-funded scientific data, especially regarding data of particular importance to major global challenges.

Full exploitation of ‘big data’, however, will also depend on the extent to which national science systems are able to develop the capacity to use it, on avoiding the creation of new ‘knowledge divides’, and on deciding which data can be made open for use and re-use.

The accord proposes 12 principles to guide the practice and practitioners of open data, focused on the roles played by scientists, publishers, libraries and other stakeholders, and on technical requirements for open data. It also assesses the “boundaries of openness”.

Download the Accord:

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