You are browsing the archive for WG Open Data in Science.

New Panton Fellows Announced!

- September 16, 2013 in Featured, Open Science, Panton Fellows, WG Open Data in Science

We’ve just finished the second round of appointments for the Panton Fellowships, and this year we have three Fellows joining us: Rosie Graves (UK), Peter Kraker (Austria), and Sam Moore (UK). Peter will be joining us at OKCon this year, so please come and find him and introduce yourself! Panton fellows 2013 Left to right: Sam Moore, Peter Kraker and Rosie Graves We had some really excellent applications this year, so we’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped us spread the word. The Panton Fellowships are year-long awards with a small stipend and additional travel budget. They are typically awarded to early career researchers (although those with other backgrounds are very welcome to apply), who submit proposals that we think will be really beneficial to promote open science, open data in science, and the Panton Principles. We’ve expanded from last year’s two Fellows, who were both based in the UK, so we are really excited to see what they manage to do! We’re aware that this year’s Fellows are going to have a tough job living up to the amazing work carried out by our inaugural Fellows, Ross Mounce and Sophie Kershaw, however this lot certainly have the potential to do so! Each of the Fellows will be writing a short introductory post about themselves, their thoughts and plans for the year. We also hope they will be posting semi regular updates about their activities, so sign up to the open science working group mailing list to be kept up to date!

Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science

- June 25, 2013 in Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

Here’s a few great videos from a recent conference attended by members of our Open Science Working Group, about Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science. Science is great, open it (open science) A team of researchers at the University of Oxford and University of Koblenz recently joined forces to organise an event on ‘Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science‘ examining whether and how recent developments in open science can lead to increased reproducibility and rigour in scientific research. While the key themes of open access and data were addressed, other sessions touched on the question of how to ensure data collected and analysed by citizens is validated, the role of openness in innovation and pre-competitive commercial environments and new technical services that are being built to facilitate sharing, analysis and further application of research outputs. Over 90 people registered to attend the sessions, which were flanked by an opening address from Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Advisor and a closing address from David Willetts MP, UK Government Minister for Science and Universities. These provided an interesting and positive insight into how the UK Government is thinking about issues around open science. In addition, six eminent speakers debated the issue of the future of scholarly publishing in a public event held in the Oxford Union debating chamber – will we see progress by evolution or revolution of the current system? Here are some great videos, and further sessions can be found on youtube and the University of Oxford podcasts site.
Sir Mark Walport – Opening Address
David Willetts MP – Opening Address
Evolution or Revolution? The Debate at Oxford’s conference Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science
Chas Bountra on open innovation
Helen Roy on citizen science

G8 Science Ministers Support Open Data in Science

- June 14, 2013 in Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

As you may have seen, open data and transparency is set to be a major topic of discussion at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next week. We were pleased to see a joint statement from the G8 science ministers released yesterday – expressing a strong commitment to open data in science. The third section of the statement says:
Open Scientific Research Data Open enquiry is at the heart of scientific endeavour, and rapid technological change has profound implications for the way that science is both conducted and its results communicated. It can provide society with the necessary information to solve global challenges. We are committed to openness in scientific research data to speed up the progress of scientific discovery, create innovation, ensure that the results of scientific research are as widely available as practical, enable transparency in science and engage the public in the scientific process. We have decided to support the set of principles for open scientific research data outlined below as a basis for further discussions. i. To the greatest extent and with the fewest constraints possible publicly funded scientific research data should be open, while at the same time respecting concerns in relation to privacy, safety, security and commercial interests, whilst acknowledging the legitimate concerns of private partners. ii. Open scientific research data should be easily discoverable, accessible, assessable, intelligible, useable, and wherever possible interoperable to specific quality standards. iii. To maximise the value that can be realised from data, the mechanisms for delivering open scientific research data should be efficient and cost effective, and consistent with the potential benefits. iv. To ensure successful adoption by scientific communities, open scientific research data principles will need to be underpinned by an appropriate policy environment, including recognition of researchers fulfilling these principles, and appropriate digital infrastructure. We decide to build on the existing work to coordinate and enable international data collaboration.
It is encouraging to see such high level support for open access to scientific research and for open data in science. We hope that in the coming months this high level support translates into policies that mandate compliance with principles such as the Budapest Open Access Initiative 10 Year Recommendations and our own Panton Principles for Open Data in Science. If you’d like to join discussion about open data in science you can sign up to our open-science mailing list:

Panton Fellowships: Apply Now!

- June 12, 2013 in Featured, Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

The Open Knowledge Foundation is delighted to announce the launch of the new Panton Fellowships!

CCIA Funded this year by The Computer & Communications Industry Association, Panton Fellowships will be awarded to scientists who actively promote open data in science, as per the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science. Visit the Panton Fellowships home page for more information including details of how to apply.

Further Details

We firmly believe that “open data means better science”. The Panton Fellowships have been created in order to support scientists – particularly graduate students and early-stage career scientists – to explore this idea, and to tackle those barriers which currently prevent science data from being made open. Dr Cameron Neylon, Advocacy Director at PLOS, and one of the Panton Fellowships Advisory Board, commented on the ‘real potential’ of the Fellowships to influence practice surrounding open data in the scientific community:
‘Panton Fellowships will allow those who are still deeply involved in research to think closely about the policy and technical issues surrounding open data.’
By allowing scientists the scope both to explore the ‘big picture’ – gathering evidence to promote discussion throughout the community – and also to work on specific technical solutions to individual problems, the Panton Fellowship scheme has the potential to make a real impact upon the practice of open data in science. Panton Fellows will have the freedom to undertake a range of activities, and prospective applicants are encouraged to formulate their own work plan. As Fellows will continue to be employed and/or study at their current institution, activities undertaken for the Panton Fellowship should ideally complement and enhance their existing work. Fellowships will be held for one year, and will have a value of £8k p.a. For more details and information on how to apply, please visit Read about the work of our previous Panton Fellows; Sophie Kershaw here (PDF), and Ross Mounce here.  

The White House Seeks Champions of Open Science

- May 8, 2013 in Open Access, Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

Here at the Open Knowledge Foundation, we know Open Science is tough, but ultimately rewarding. It requires courage & leadership to take the open path in science. Nearly a week ago on the open-science mailing list we started putting together a list of established scientists who have in some way or another made significant contributions to open science or lent their esteemed reputation to calls for increased openness in science. Our open list now has over 130 notable scientists, among whom 88 are Nobel prize winners. In an interesting parallel development, the White House has just put out a call to help identify “Open Science” Champions of Change — outstanding individuals, organizations, or research projects promoting and using open scientific data for the benefit of society. whitehouseOPENSCIENCE Anyone can nominate an Open Science candidate for consideration by May 14, 2013. What more proof do we need that open science is both good, and valued in society? This marks a tremendous validation of the open science movement. The US government is not seeking to reward any scientist; only open scientists actively working to change the world for the better will win this recognition. We’re still a long way from Open Science being the norm in science. But perhaps now, we’re a crucial step closer to important widespread recognition that Open Science is good, and could be the norm in the future. We eagerly await the unveiling of the winning Open Science champions at the White House on the 20th June later this year.

Science Europe denounces ‘hybrid’ Open Access

- May 2, 2013 in Open Access, Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

Recently Science Europe published a clear and concise position statement titled: Principles on the Transition to Open Access to Research Publications This is an extremely timely & important document that clarifies what governments and research funders should expect during the transition to open access. Unlike the recent US OSTP public access policy which allows publishers to apply up to a 12 month access embargo (to the disgust of some scientists like Michael Eisen) on publicly-funded research, this new Science Europe statement makes clear that only up to a 6 month embargo at maximum should be accepted for publicly funded STEM research. The recent RCUK (UK research councils) open access policy also requires 6 months embargo at most, with some caveats. But among the many excellent principles is a particularly bold and welcome proclamation:
the hybrid model, as currently defined and implemented by publishers, is not a working and viable pathway to Open Access. Any model for transition to Open Access supported by Science Europe Member Organisations must prevent ‘double dipping’ and increase cost transparency
Hybrid options are typically far more expensive than ‘pure’ open access journal costs, and they don’t typically aid transparency or the wider transition to open access. The Open Knowledge Foundation heartily endorses these principles as together with the above they respect, and reinforce the need for free access AND full re-use rights to scientific research. About Science Europe: Science Europe is an association of European Research Funding Organisations and Research Performing Organisations, based in Brussels. At present Science Europe comprises 51 Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations from 26 countries, representing around €30 billion per annum.

Panton Fellowship wrap up: Ross Mounce

- April 16, 2013 in Featured, Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

  The Panton Fellowships have come to an end. The work that our two Panton Fellows, Ross Mounce and Sophie Kershaw have done over the past year to promote openness in the sciences has far surpassed what any of us expected. Here Ross details his wide-ranging experiences and achievements over the past year, and you can read Sophie’s report on the last year here. So… it’s over. For the past twelve months I was immensely proud to be one of the first Open Knowledge Foundation Panton Fellows, but that has now come to an end. In this post I will try and recap my activities and achievements during the fellowship. okfhelsinki The broad goals of the fellowship were to:
  • Promote the concept of open data in all areas of science
  • Explore practical solutions for making data open
  • Facilitate discussions surrounding the role and value of openness
  • Catalyse the open community, and reach out beyond its traditional core
and I’m pleased to say that I think I achieved all four of these goals with varying levels of success.  


Outreach & Promotion – I went to a lot of conferences, workshops and meetings during my time as a Panton Fellow to help get the message out there. These included: Conferences At all of these I made clear my views on open data and open access, and ways in which we could improve scientific communication using these guiding principles. Indeed I was more than just a participant at all of these conferences – I was on stage at some point for all, whether it was arguing for richer PDF metadata, discussing data re-use on a panel or discussing AMI2 and how to liberate open phylogenetic data from PDFs. One thing I’ve learnt during my fellowship is that just academic-to-academic communication isn’t enough. In order to change the system effectively, we’ve got to convince other stakeholders too, such as librarians, research funders and policy makers. Hence I’ve been very busy lately attending more broader policy-centred events like the Westminster Higher Education Forum on Open Access & the Open Access Royal Society workshop & the Institute of Historical Research Open Access colloquium. Again, here in the policy-space my influence has been international not just domestic. For example, my trips to Brussels, both for the Narratives as a Communication Tool for Scientists workshop (which may help shape the direction of future FP8 funding), and the ongoing Licences For Europe: Text and Data Mining stakeholder dialogue have had real impact. My presentation about content mining for the latter has garnered nearly 1000 views on slideshare and the debate as a whole has been featured in widely-read news outlets such as Nature News. Indeed I’ve seemingly become a spokesperson for certain issues in open science now. Just this year alone I’ve been asked for comments on ‘open’ matters in three different Nature features; on licencing, text mining, and open access from an early career researcher point-of-view – I don’t see many other UK PhD students being so widely quoted! Another notable event I was particularly proud of speaking at and contributing to was the Revaluing Science in the Digital Age invite-only workshop organised jointly by the International Council for Science & Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, September 2012. The splendour was not just in the location, but also the attendees too – an exciting, influential bunch of people who can actually make things happen. The only downside of such high-level international policy is the glacial pace of action – I’m told, arising from this meeting and subsequent contributions, a final policy paper for approval by the General Assembly of ICSU will likely only be circulated in 2014 at the earliest!   helsinkiTALK The most exciting outreach I did for the fellowship were the ‘general public’ opportunities that I seized to get the message out to people beyond the ‘ivory towers’ of academia. One such event was the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki, September 2012 (pictured above). Another was my participation in a radio show broadcast on Voice of Russia UK radio with Timothy Gowers, Bjorn Brembs, and Rita Gardner explaining the benefits and motivation behind the recent policy shift to open access in the UK. This radio show gave me the confidence & experience I needed for the even bigger opportunity that was to come next – at very short notice I was invited to speak on a live radio debate show on open access for BBC Radio 3 with other panellists including Dame Janet Finch & David Willetts MP! An interesting sidenote is that this opportunity may not have arisen if I hadn’t given my talk about the Open Knowledge Foundation at a relatively small conference; Progressive Palaeontology in Cambridge earlier that year – it pays to network when given the opportunity!  


The fellowship may be over, but the work has only just begun! I have gained significant momentum and contacts in many areas thanks to this Panton Fellowship. Workshop and speaking invites continue to roll in, e.g. next week I shall be in Berlin at the Making Data Count workshop, then later on in the month I’ll be speaking at the London Information & Knowledge Exchange monthly meet and the ‘Open Data – Better Society’ meeting (Edinburgh). Even completely independent of my activism, the new generation of researchers in my field are discovering for themselves the need for Open Data in science. The seeds for change have definitely been sown. Attitudes, policies, positions and ‘defaults’ in academia are changing. For my part I will continue to try and do my bit to help this in the right direction; towards intelligent openness in all its forms.

What Next?

I’m going to continue working closely with the Open Knowledge Foundation as and when I can. Indeed for 6 months starting this January I agreed to be the OKF Community Coordinator, Open Science before my postdoc starts. Then when I’ve submitted my thesis (hopefully that’ll go okay), I’ll continue on in full-time academic research with funding from a BBSRC grant I co-wrote partially out in Helsinki(!) at the Open Knowledge Festival with Peter Murray-Rust & Matthew Wills, that has subsequently been approved for funding. This grant proposal which I’ll blog further about at a later date, comes as a very direct result of the content mining work I’ve been doing with Peter Murray-Rust for this fellowship using AMI2 tools to liberate open data. Needless to say I’m very excited about this future work… but first things first I must complete and submit my doctoral thesis!

“We are entering an era of open science” says EU Vice President Neelie Kroes at launch of new global Research Data Alliance

- March 21, 2013 in Open Access, Open Data, Open Science, Policy, WG Open Data in Science

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, gave a talk earlier this week renewing the EU’s strong, principled support for open science. Speaking at the launch of a new global Research Data Alliance, she said that we are entering a new “era of open science”, which will be “good for citizens, good for scientists and good for society”. She explicitly highlighted the transformative potential of open access, open data, open software and open educational resources – mentioning the EU’s policy requiring open access to all publications and data resulting from EU funded research. She also alluded to the EU’s work encouraging national funding bodies to adopt similar approach to publicly funded research, and recent policy developments in the US and Australia. The Research Data Alliance says it “aims to accelerate and facilitate research data sharing and exchange” and currently lists a number of working areas such as metadata harmonisation and legal interoperability. While there does not yet appear to be an explicit focus on open data per se, we hope that the new organisation will take a principled, ‘open by default’ approach to data sharing, in line with the Panton Principles, and commensurate with Commissioner Kroes’s speech. As always, our Open Science Working Group will continue to monitor and engage with relevant initiatives and policy developments in this area as they unfold. If you’d like to help us you can join our open-science discussion list, by signing up below:

Expanded Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research

- February 25, 2013 in Open Access, Open Science, WG Open Data in Science

On Friday 22nd February, 2013 the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a statement to say that the “Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for”.  This was accompanied by a new policy memorandum and a long-awaited response by OSTP Director John Holdren to the ‘We The People’ petition that was signed by over 65,000 people calling for expanded public access to research. OSTP_logo  

Advocates of green open access were pleased to see this new directive and Peter Suber in particular gives a nice clear summary of it in a Google+ post. With up to 12-month embargoes allowed before research can be self-archived even the Association of American Publishers wrote a statement of support for this new policy.

This policy certainly represents a step in the right direction, but it’s not as strong as some would have liked — prominent OA advocate & scientist Michael Eisen writes on his blog: No celebrations here: why the White House public access policy sucks. A comparison with the United Kingdom’s RCUK policy, clearly shows the OSTP to be the weaker of the two: Breadth: OSTP applies only to scientific research, whereas RCUK’s applies to Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences research too. Immediacy: OSTP allows 12 month embargoes, whilst RCUK accepts a maximum embargo of only 6 months for STM research Coverage: OSTP policy applies only to Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures, whilst RCUK’s applies to all RCUK funded research – no exceptions. Some would say this is no bad thing. The OSTP policy is certainly more lenient on publishers and thus is likely to be uncontroversially implemented. Hopes for stronger OA policy in the USA are emboldened by the recent Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act which proposes to shorten the maximum embargo time allowed to just 6-months, in-line with RCUK policy. Finally, the pleasant surprise for everyone with this new OSTP policy is the specific and explicit inclusion of access to data not just publications, in section 4 titled Objectives for Public Access to Scientific Data in Digital Formats aiming to: “Maximize access, by the general public and without charge, to digitally formatted scientific data created with Federal funds” The United States of America has now clearly joined the global movement towards open access to taxpayer-funded research. We think the world will certainly benefit from this new policy.

BioMed Central Open Data Awards

- January 29, 2013 in Open Science, Open Standards, WG Open Data in Science

The deadline for nominations in the annual BioMed Central Open Data Awards is on January 31st. Get your votes in now! It’s been a big year for open science in general, and for BioMed Central in particular. We’ve been hard at work promoting the value of data-sharing, developing standards to make it more attractive to researchers, and offering tools to make open publishing even easier. Recognising the importance of citation and reuse tracking in motivating researchers to publish openly, we’ve been promoting standards for data-citation including data DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) as link-able URLs. Through our technology partnership with LabArchives, all our authors can now get 100Mb of free storage and the ability to assign DOIs to their datasets, and thereby create permanent data citations. This standard is exemplified by various datasets deposited in GigaDB, the database underpinning BioMed Central and BGI’s revolutionary “big data” journal GigaScience, which published its first articles in July 2012. Critically, GigaDB uses the Creative Commons CC0 waiver for published datasets making data open in compliance with Open Knowledge Foundation principles. We’ve been pushing open licensing since 2010, but in September 2012 we launched a formal public consultation on changing the copyright system in science publishing to better support open data. Look out for the full, public report on the outcomes in early 2013.

The Open Data Award

But the Open Data Award is a celebration of the work of our authors. Authors who have gone the extra mile to make their science reproducible; their analyses re-computable; and so, fundamentally, their data as open as possible. We look for scientists who have published in BioMed Central journals and have demonstrated leadership in the sharing, standardization, publication, or re-use of biomedical research data. Last year’s winner exemplified the award’s criteria superbly. The International Stroke Trial group, led by Peter Sandercock published the anonymised 19,000 individual patient data from one the largest trials in acute stroke ever conducted. This kind of transparency is sadly still uncommon in this field, and the data are already being used by at least two other groups since its release. I’m hoping we will unearth an equally important example of “data sharing done well” from our 2012 publications. As in previous years the authors of Panton Principles – Peter Murray-Rust, John Wilbanks, Rufus Pollock and Cameron Neylon – will be assisting with the judging process, along with Earl Buetler, CEO of LabArchives. With less than a week to go before we begin the judging process, please nominate soon!