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Appendix C CFRS Advisory Note1 International Symposium “The Case for International Sharing of Scientific Data: A Focus on Developing Countries" Researchers in developing countries, in particular, lack the norms and traditions of more open data sharing for collaborative research and for the development of common research resources for the benefit of the entire research community. This international symposium was designed to help address these and related issues, and to improve the access to and use of publicly funded scientific data. Synopsis Scientific research and problem solving are increasingly dependent for successful outcomes on access to diverse sources of data generated by the public and academic research community. Global issues, such as disaster mitigation and response, international environmental management, epidemiology of infectious diseases, and various types of sustainable development concerns, require access to reliable data from many, if not all, countries. Digital networks now provide a near-universal infrastructure for sharing much of this factual information on a timely, comprehensive, and low-cost basis. There also are many compelling examples of data sharing in different areas that have yielded great benefits to the world community, although many more could be similarly facilitated. Moreover, many OECD countries and some emerging economies already have implemented national policies and programs for public data management and access, while others are in the process of developing them. Nevertheless, a large number of developing countries do not have formal mechanisms in place. At the same time, there are various specific barriers to the access and sharing of scientific data collected by governments or by researchers using public funding. Such obstacles include scientific and technical; institutional and management; economic and financial; legal and policy; and normative and socio-cultural aspects. Some of these barriers are possible to diminish or remove, whereas others seek to balance competing values that impose legitimate limitations on openness. Despite such challenges, however, there could be much greater value and benefits to research and society, particularly for economic and social development, from the broader use and sharing of existing factual data sources. Researchers in developing countries, in particular, lack the norms and traditions of more open data sharing for collaborative research and for the development of common research resources for the benefit of the entire research community. Moreover, the governments in many developing countries treat publicly-generated or publicly-funded research data either as secret or commercial commodities. Even if the governments do not actively protect such data, they lack policies that 1 See http://www.icsu.org/events/ICSUpercent20Events/international-symposium-the-case-for-international-sharing-of-scientific- date-a-focus-on-developing-countries. 162
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APPENDIX C 163 provide guidance or identify responsibilities for the researchers they fund as to under what conditions the researchers should make their research data available for others to use. Finally, developing countries frequently do not have data centers or digital repositories in place that researchers can submit their data for use by others. In those cases where such repositories do exist, they tend to be managed as black archives. This international symposium helped addressing these and related issues, and to improve the access to and use of publicly-funded scientific data. Organizers and hosts The symposium was organized by the Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO), and the U.S. Committee on Data for Science and Technology (US CODATA) under the Board on Research Data and Information (BRDI), in consultation with the ICSU Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science (CFRS).
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