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      Issues in the development of open access to research data



            This paper explores key issues in the development of open access to research data. The use of digital means for developing, storing and manipulating data is creating a focus on ‘data-driven science’. One aspect of this focus is the development of ‘open access’ to research data. Open access to research data refers to the way in which various types of data are openly available to public and private stakeholders, user communities and citizens. Open access to research data, however, involves more than simply providing easier and wider access to data for potential user groups. The development of open access requires attention to the ways data are considered in different areas of research. We identify how open access is being unevenly developed across the research environment and the consequences this has in terms of generating data gaps. Data gaps refer to the way data becomes detached from published conclusions. To address these issues, we examine four main areas in developing open access to research data: stakeholder roles and values; technological requirements for managing and sharing data; legal and ethical regulations and procedures; institutional roles and policy frameworks. We conclude that problems of variability and consistency across the open access ecosystem need to be addressed within and between these areas to ensure that risks surrounding a data gap are managed in open access.


            Author and article information

            Pluto Journals
            1 March 2014
            : 32
            : 1 ( doiID: 10.1080/prometheus.32.issue-1 )
            : 49-66
            [ a ]Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
            [ b ]Trilateral Research & Consulting; LLP, London, UK
            [ c ]Library, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden
            [ d ]National Research Council of Italy, Area della Ricerca di Romal, Monterotondo, Rome, Italy
            [ e ]Stichting LIBER Foundation, National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague, The Netherlands
            [ f ]Kroto Research Institute, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
            [ g ]School of Law, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
            [ h ]National Documentation Centre/NHRF, Athens, Greece
            [ i ]eHumanities Group, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
            © 2014 Pluto Journals

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            Custom metadata

            Computer science,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,Law,History,Economics


            1. For another widely used, similar definition of open access, see the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002).

            2. Funded under European Community's Seventh Framework Programme, FP7/2007-2013, Contract 269977. See http://www.alliancepermanentaccess.org/index.php/aparsen/

            3. Funded under European Community's Seventh Framework Programme, FP7/2007-2013, Contract RI-212147. See http://www.driver-repository.eu/

            4. Funded under European Community's Seventh Framework Programme, FP7/2007-2013, Contract RI-246686. See http://www.openaire.eu/

            5. ‘Digitally born data’ refers to data that is digitally produced (not analogue material that has later been migrated to a digital environment).

            6. Staff training in particular is necessary to increase awareness of the benefits and requirements of open access and data preservation. This includes training in how to use these new tools, and services to facilitate science as well as technical support (see Bulger et al., 2011).

            7. We do, however, acknowledge the adage that ‘one person's trash is another's treasure’, and recognise that future researchers may do creative things with data that are initially judged to be of little use.


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