A talk given at ISIS on 27 January 2009.
There is a growing interest amongst scientists, funders, and the general public in widening access to the results of publicly funded research. At the same time there is a growing realisation that the promise of exploiting the World Wide Web for research can only be fully realised if the underlying resources; data, samples, and process description, are available for use, re-use, and modification. Some scientists are responding to this by exploring the idea of making the whole research record openly available; most researchers are dabbling with or ignoring the possibilities while a significant minority are actively hostile to the idea of Open Research. Some funders are moving ahead with policy changes in advance of the development of tools and practices while others are adopting a “wait and see” approach.
In this talk I will explore the recent large gains made by the Open Access research publication movement and in particular the role of funders and the implications this has for the related movement advocating the benefits of the public availability of research data. I will describe the technical and cultural issues associated with “Open Notebook Science”, an approach in which the aim is to make the full record of research openly available. A recent success using this approach to “crowd-source” the collection of data and its visualisation and analysis will be described and the implications for how research is carried out discussed. Finally I will outline how STFC could take a leadership role in promoting the wider availability of the outputs of the research we fund while taking account of the concerns and needs of users and other stakeholders.