Why Science Should Be (Even More) Open? | Boston University Library

Point of View: Why Science Should Be (Even More) Open? Sharing Research Data is Vital

In his recent blog post, David Fristrom, head of the Science Engineering Library, Boston University points out the difference between science and alchemy, stressing the importance of the scientific tradition of openness and collegiality. To support scientists in making research data even more open, David says, “the University is already doing some things, but needs to do more”.

  • Researchers at BU need support in developing and implementing the data management plans required by the NIH, the NSF, and other funding agencies. BU Libraries, in consultation with other offices, has created a research data management website that provides information and practical advice on creating such plans, and also offers classes and consultation on data management. Similarly, Information Services & Technology provides the technical infrastructure for many researchers to store and manage their data and intends to expand its offerings in this area.
  • BU researchers need places to share their data. No single solution fits all research data, which can range in size from a few megabytes to several petabytes and come in a bewildering array of formats. In many cases, discipline-specific repositories such as NCBI are the appropriate vehicle for sharing data. Some of these repositories are government-funded, others are supported by consortia of research institutions, and BU should participate in such consortia where feasible.
  • Because appropriate repositories don’t yet exist for all data, there are some cases where the researcher’s institution needs to step up and provide a home for the data. The Association of Research Libraries, with others, has put forward a strong proposal for a Shared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE), “a network of digital repositories at universities, libraries, and other research institutions across the United States that will provide long-term public access to federally funded research articles and data.”
  • BU should support the SHARE project, and a good first step would be expanding the capabilities of OpenBU, our institutional repository, so that it can support research data as well as articles.
  • BU researchers need a clear policy on how the new costs of data management and sharing will be met. Funding agencies are reluctant to allow specific line items for data management in a grant, considering it part of overhead. So it will be up to BU as an institution to provide and pay for the infrastructure required.
  • Finally, BU researchers need the University to recognize the importance of data sharing to the advancement of scientific knowledge. One way would be to consider a researcher’s data—whether it is shared, how often it is cited—as well as publications in hiring and tenure decisions.
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