Data Harvest report outlines vision of a ‘global, virtual science library’

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

A team of European data experts have outlined how scientific data might be shared to create a ‘global, virtual science library’ and warns that Europe needs to act now ‘or go down in history as the politicians who missed the Next Big Thing’.

The recommendations are made in a new report Data Harvest, published by the Research Data Alliance - an organisation backed by the EU, US and Australian governments to promote international cooperation regarding scientific data sharing.

‘The sheer volume of data spilling from telescopes, gene sequencers or environmental monitors is vast,’ the report notes in its executive summary, and proposes that sharing this vast amount of data will be the catalyst will help bring science researchers together. ‘Researchers who never met, at different institutions and in divergent fields, [can] find themselves working on related topics,’ it continues, proposing that this will ultimately accelerate innovation.

The report outlines seven key actions that will need to be taken to make this happen. It proposes that every EU member state develop the tools and infrastructure to share data, and make it a requirement for future member states to join the EU. It recommends the implementation of policies and incentives to encourage data sharing initiatives, and the support of international coordination. However, it also recognises that ‘the biggest challenge in data sharing is trust’ and that much work – and funding – will be required to address this.

The report also acknowledges that good work is already under way, and warns the European Commission not to interfere unnecessarily. ‘It will be a temptation, with a new Commission and Parliament in Brussels, to change course, re-order priorities and move funding lines around,’ it says. ‘Don’t.’
The RSS welcomes the report as it addresses a number of RSS concerns around data literacy and data trust. ‘There is much potential gain for research if we can open up research data,’ says RSS executive director Hetan Shah. ‘There are many themes in this report which echo our own interests around statistical literacy and trust in data. We hope it provokes a debate and has an impact.'

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