By Open Data, we mean research data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.
The key requirements for Open Data include:
The Open Data Handbook provides a useful discussion of the nuances of this definition. While we recognize that the principles of Open Data can be applied to many types of data, SPARC’s primary focus is on data produced as a result of the scholarly and scientific research process.
Communication of results is an essential component of the research process. In order for science and scholarship to advance, the results of research must be shared freely so that they can be understood and built upon. This is particularly critical in the scientific research process, where the validity of results can only be verified through replication. Ensuring full access to and reuse of research data facilitates this process.
In addition, making research data broadly accessible and fully available for reuse encourages new research through the reanalysis of existing data, further leveraging the value of a research investment. Providing access to data that is made accessible in formats and under terms that enable full reuse promotes interoperability, and allows the data to be mined using cutting-edge computational tools across huge amounts of data to find connections, trends and patterns that can’t be uncovered when data is closed or siloed.
The process of making data truly open can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. To help simplify the process, it may be helpful to think about enabling Open Data through two basic routes:
During the past several years, Open Data has become a field of urgent interest to researchers, scholars, and librarians. With the amount of scientific data doubling every year, issues surrounding the access, use, and curation of data sets are increasing in importance. The data-rich, researcher-driven environment that is evolving poses new challenges and provides new opportunities in the sharing, review, and publication of research results. Ensuring access to primary research data will play a key role in seeing that the scholarly communication system evolves in a way that supports the needs of scholars and the academic enterprise as a whole.
Increasingly, institutions that support research – from public and private research funders to higher education institutions – are exploring policies that require researchers to produce data management plans that explicitly cover how they will make their data available, and under what terms.
Learn more about these policies in the SPARC Open Data Primer, which explores the motivations behind these policies, the basic components that emerging policies contain, as well as the basic components of data management plans that effectively promote Open Data.