NAS Public Comment Meeting on Data Sharing Highlights Challenges and Benefits Created by on 06/03/2013
By Bethany Drehman
On May 16 and 17 a public comment meeting on data sharing was held at the National Academy of Science in Washington, DC. Sponsored by several federal agencies that fund research, the meeting focused on how agencies can best implement the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum – which is part of a larger effort to increase public access to federal data – for sharing federally funded digital research data and publications. Agencies will be submitting their draft data sharing plans this summer and are directed to seek feedback from stakeholders when preparing their final plans.
Public comments from the meeting were generally supportive of increased data-sharing within the scientific community, but also highlighted a wide range of issues and caveats that remain to be addressed, including: (1) a need for a clearer definition of “research data” as used in the memorandum; (2) how data sharing will be funded (it is currently an unfunded mandate); and (3) the challenges associated with creating collection systems for the complex and diverse data that results from research and making it assessable to a variety of end-users. Overall, commenters appeared to interpret the memorandum as only applicable to data underlying scholarly publications.