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The open access (OA) movement has gathered momentum in research publishing only recently. Are we ready to address another important cause that is as important as OA? Open data is a topic that is not new, but the masses are not completely aware of its significance in research developments.
What Is Open Data?
Research is not only about analyzing and interpreting information or test results of an experiment but also about gathering and processing relevant data. This data is a significant factor in the research, but the published article does not include it. Every data collection endeavor is designed to suit the particular research hypothesis and has a value that others in the research community can tap into.
Open data is data, codes, workflows, and methodologies that are free to use, reuse, and redistribute under proper attributes and licenses. It does not include personal data or data with national security restrictions. A reasonable reproduction cost may be applied for access under terms that allow reuse, redistribution, and mixing with other datasets. Open data is available to everyone irrespective of fields and purposes.
Open Data Explosion
Research data are given as attachments in rare cases even in open access publishing. Traditional print publishing not publishing lengthy data made more sense. But with the advent of the digital era, publishing large quantities of data is possible. Open data used with other open data and so on will generate research data exponentially. With good data managing platforms, we can reap all the benefits of open data explosion.
Open Data + Open Access—Open Science
Open access means research articles are freely available to all and can be reused with attributes and Creative Commons licensing. Open data is similar but involves publishing the data that backs up the research. If authors get exclusive first exploitative rights, they will be more eager to share their research data publicly. Together, they can make science open to everyone, breaking barriers to knowledge and information. Reputed journals such as Science and Nature have open data policies. Funders like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative have open data requirements for the researches they support.
The Increasing Importance
Replication of work can be avoided, and this itself can make research possible at a lower cost. Data is preserved in the long run and can be used years after publishing, increasing citations of the original work. Open data can promote interoperability between diverse fields and organizations by allowing the intermixing of datasets. This enables collaborators to put together components of different sources to create complex systems that touch several fields. That is where the real potential of open data lies.
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