By Marina Angelaki, National Documentation Centre/NHRF, Greece
The discourse on open access to research data is aligned with the notion of rigorous science and the societal and economic benefits obtained from it. National and international funders have demonstrated massive support for open access to publications and research data in recent years.
According to the European Commission, 'open access to scientific research data enhances data quality, reduces the need for duplication of research, speeds up scientific progress and helps in combating scientific fraud'.1
The development of open access to research data has also been facilitated by technological advancements that give rise to new ways of making use of data and opening up new opportunities for communication and collaboration among scientists.
The increasing use of computational technologies, allowing the massive datasets to be explored, has in essence led to the transition in what has been termed the 'fourth paradigm of science' based on data-intensive computing or 'data-led science' which opens up new sources of knowledge through the development of digital means for producing, storing and manipulating data.2
Nonetheless, the transition to open access is neither easy to achieve nor cost free: it requires investments in infrastructure and technology, but more importantly it requires a change in research culture which takes time to take effect. In such a context, RECODE – an FP-7 funded project – has leveraged existing networks, communities and projects to address challenges within the open access and data dissemination and preservation sector by providing a space for European stakeholders to work together towards common solutions to shared challenges.
To this end, RECODE has used five disciplinary case studies in open access to research data to examine four grand challenges: the open access ecosystem and the values of the stakeholders; legal and ethical concerns; infrastructure and technology challenges; and institutional challenges. The RECODE project identified two overarching issues in the mobilisation of open access to research data: a lack of a coherent open data ecosystem; and a lack of attention to the specificity of research practice, processes and data collections.
The project findings have, in turn, fed-in the RECODE policy recommendations report on open access to research data targeted at key stakeholders: national governments and research funders; data managers; research institutions; and publishers. These recommendations will assist these stakeholders in furthering the goals of open access to research data in each of their organisations and networks by providing both over-arching and stakeholder-specific recommendations as suggestions to address and attend to these two issues.
Specifically, RECODE recognises that in some situations it is appropriate to build consensus and transfer good practice across disciplines and stakeholder groups, while in others it is appropriate to enable and support specific groups to maintain their particularity in relation to disseminating, preserving and re-using research data. In addition, the recommendations provide good practice examples to each of these stakeholders that can serve as 'models' for providing open access to research data.
Furthermore, the recommendations and good practice examples will reduce 'costs' associated with providing open access, as stakeholders do not need to develop their own expertise, but can use this information as a foundation to develop their own policies, support actions and initiatives.
The RECODE recommendations will be officially launched at the RECODE Final Conference that will take place on the 15 and 16 January 2015 in Athens (programme information and registration at http://recodeproject.eu/events/upcoming-events/. The Final Conference will contribute to the ongoing dialogue on open science and open access to research data in particular by providing a forum for discussion that brings together an excellent line-up of international experts.
The Conference is designed around the following key themes: policies for open access to research data; enabling data re-use; research cultures; PSI and research (data). The conference is organised by the National Documentation Centre and will take place at the National Hellenic Research Foundation at the heart of Athens (location information and accommodation at http://openaccess.gr/conferences/conference2015/index.dot).
1. European Commission (2012) Commission Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information, Brussels 17.7.2012, C(2012), 4890 final.
2. The Royal Society (2012) Science as an open enterprise, London.