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Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age
of publication, so that making data accessible at the time of publication will not compromise commercialization of the invention in question. If a company decides to protect an invention as a trade secret, it might be assumed that researchers will not publish papers about the invention and the question of providing access to data will not arise.
In the past few years we have also seen private companies announce plans to make significant data resources available on an open access basis. For example, Merck has spun off a nonprofit, open access platform known as Sage.66 Sage is aimed at helping researchers to build new databases aimed at more effectively modeling disease. Where possible, public policies should encourage the release of such data, and privately funded researchers and their managers should explore possible means of making data available.
The Access and Sharing Principle is consistent with recommendations from National Academies committees that have previously addressed data access. A 2003 report, Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities ofAuthorship in the Life Sciences, puts forward the “uniform principle for sharing integral data and materials expeditiously (UPSIDE).”67 The UPSIDE principle calls on researchers employed in the academic, government, and commercial sectors to provide data and materials needed to support published findings, and to “provide them in a form on which other scientists can build with further research.” The 1997 report Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to ScientificData states that “full and open access to scientific data should be adopted as the international norm for the exchange of scientific data derived from publicly funded research.”68
RESPONSIBILITIES OF RESEARCHERS
As with the integrity of research data, the primary responsibility for sharing data lies with the researchers who produced them. (In addition, other parts of the research enterprise have responsibilities for sharing data, as described later in this chapter and in the next chapter.) Only researchers know their data well enough to ascertain what information must be publicly available to allow others to verify their results and build on their work. Only researchers are in a position to work with research institutions, research sponsors, and journals to make data available in a way that they can be understood and used effectively by others. Thus, our committee recommends that:
Bryn Nelson. 2009. “Something wiki this way comes.” Nature 458(13, March 4). doi:10.1038/458013a.
National Research Council. 2003. Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilitiesof Authorship in the Life Sciences. Washington, D.C: The National Academies Press.
National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.