Scientists for open data and authors of Panton Principles named SPARC Innovators

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For Immediate Release
June 22, 2010

For more information, contact:

Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext 121

Scientists for open data and authors of Panton Principles named SPARC Innovators

Washington, DC – Science is based on building on, reusing, and openly criticizing the published body of scientific knowledge. For science to effectively function, and for society to reap the full benefits from scientific endeavors, it is crucial that science data be made open.

That’s the belief of four leaders who have put forth a groundbreaking set of recommendations for scientists to more easily share their data – The Panton Principles – and who have been named the latest SPARC Innovators for their work.

The authors of The Panton Principles are:

  • Peter Murray-Rust, chemist at the University of Cambridge;
  • Cameron Neylon, biochemist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, England;
  • Rufus Pollock, co-founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation and Mead Fellow in Economics, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge;
  • John Wilbanks, vice president for Science, Creative Commons, San Francisco.
 

The authors advocate making data freely available on the Internet for anyone to download, copy, analyze, reprocess, pass to software or use for any purpose without financial, legal or technical barriers. Through the Principles, the group aimed to develop clear language that explicitly defines how a scientist’s rights to his own data could be structured so others can freely reuse or build on it. The goal was to craft language simple enough that a scientist could easily follow it, and then focus on doing science rather than law.

The Panton Principles were publicly launched in February of 2010, with a Web site at www.pantonprinciples.org to spread the word and an invitation to endorse. About 100 individuals and organizations have endorsed the Principles so far.

“This is the first time we’re seeing diverse viewpoints crystallize around the pragmatic idea that we have to start somewhere, agree on the basics, and set the tone,” says Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). “The authors are all leading thinkers in this area – as well as producers and consumers of data. They each approached the idea of open data from different directions, yet with the same drive to open up science, and ended up on common ground.”

According to Pollock, “It's commonplace that we advance by building on the work of colleagues and predecessors – standing on the shoulders of giants. In a digital age, to build on the work of others we need something very concrete: access to the data of others and the freedom to use and reuse it. That's what the Panton Principles are about.”

The SPARC Innovator program recognizes advances in scholarly communication propelled by an individual, institution, or group. Typically, these advances exemplify SPARC principles by challenging the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public. SPARC Innovators are featured on the SPARC Web site semi-annually and have included the Optical Society of America, R. Preston McAfee; Harvard University FAS; student leaders; and others. SPARC Innovators are selected by the SPARC staff in consultation with the SPARC Steering Committee.

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research.