v22 #6 Op Ed — Open and Accessible Supplemental Data: How Librarians Can Solve the Supplemental Data Arms Race

by Elizabeth R. Lorbeer (Associate Director for Content Management, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham)
and Heather Klusendorf (Media Relations Coordinator, EBSCO Information Services)

Imagine a world where all research data belong to the community and are not subject to restriction or fee for use among the many, a world where the Internet advances sharing rather than creating new technologies for locking down data.  In this world, the data is “open” and yet still protected, allowing all researchers to benefit from shared experimental data.  Open data is described as “a philosophy and practice requiring that certain data be freely available to everyone, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.”1  Researchers are increasingly sharing their experimental data on a global stage by making their bench work research accessible on research repository Websites.  Creation of data drives new discovery and is the foundation of scholarly output in peer-reviewed journals.  Open data allows for transparency, encourages debate and differential interpretations and is naturally allied with the Open Access movement in scholarly publishing.  With increased pressure from the academic community and national government to make research freely assessible to the public, the Open Data movement strives to make the raw building blocks of knowledge widely available.  Many researchers do not have access to platforms for housing and making this data available for future research, and publishers are beginning to cease the habit of housing this data;  librarians may be the perfect custodians for managing supplemental data on a long-term basis in an open environment.

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