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View Full Version : Re: Bionet controversial topic #6: on the obligation to shareuseful research data



Paul Ostic
04-07-2002, 11:42 PM
Sharing data and sharing models are different breeds of the same
species. Both types of information should be shared for the good of the
community.

If I accept funding from a public agency and their aim is to promote the
public good, then I am bound to share that aim and work towards it on their
behalf. My personal belief is that sharing data is in the interest of
overall public good. So we should embrace the concept of data sharing, and
we should lobby for a way to make it as effective and easy for ourselves as
possible.

If we are privately funded, then the funding agency may request that the
data be kept private. However, we are caught between competing
duties; the duty to our funding agency, and the duty to the overall public
good. There have been some very high profile cases recently regarding the
rights to publication where scientists doing privately funded
pharmaceutical researcher have found negative effects of relating to the
use of drugs made by the company providing their funding. The duty to
inform the public of the possible consequences of a particular drug is in
direct conflict with the duty to the funding body. I see it as the
responsibility of groups like the ISB, for example, to assist in developing
policies regarding data sharing, and what conditions regarding publication
of results are reasonable in funding contracts.

The logistics of data sharing are not easy. Raw data by itself is
useless. Unless the protocols for data collection are also shared, then
interpreting the data meaningfully is highly unlikely. So, if we embrace
the concept of data sharing, then we must also accept responsibility for
sharing the research protocols.

Documenting the data and protocols in a way that is rigorous and complete
enough to be worth sharing would take some time and resources. So if a
funding agency requires that the data be made public, then they should
expect to see a section in the funding proposal relating to the time and
resources required to do this. In addition, if it is mandated that the
data reside in a public repository, then the group that mandates this must
also accept responsibility for maintaining that repository.

In short: We must embrace the concept of data sharing. It is essential
that in funding contracts we secure the right to make the data public. We
will have the most control of the data sharing paradigm if we work to
develop the guidelines and have them adopted by regulatory and funding
bodies rather than waiting for them to impose guidelines.

Paul Ostic
MSc Student
Queen's University
Kingston ON
Canada

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