Saturday, February 5, 2011

An open data success story

Over the winter break, Andy Maloney and our lab enjoyed an open data success story.  Andy shares his data publicly with a CC0 / public domain license.  Some scientists ran across the data, I think by Google searching and contacted us to ask if they could use our data to support their research.  Since it is CC0, they didn't have to ask, but like most scientists, they were courteous and did contact us.  I shared this story at the ScienceOnline2011 "Data Discoverability: Institutional Support Strategies" session and I think people liked the story.  Jean-Claude Bradley mentioned it in his blog summary of the conference, and Lucy Power saw this and contacted me for more details.  Lucy's is studying e-Research for her Ph.D. dissertation topic.  I sent her a reply, and instead of rewording it, I will just past it below.  I can answer questions on the FriendFeed thread.  Yay Open Data!

Hi Lucy – I definitely should write up a blog post about it and I will try to do that soon.  I think it’s a great little success story for open data and data reuse.  In a nutshell (and I can answer questions): Some people found Andy’s microtubule gliding assay data on youtube and emailed us to say it was very interesting to their theoretical work and could they use our data in a pre-print.  We replied “of course!” “woo hoo!” and we told them that it’s all public domain data so they are free to do whatever.  As a courtesy, we said we’d like a shout-out.  They went further and offered co-authorship, but Andy and I decided an acknowledgment was more appropriate at this time.  Andy suggested they acknowledge open notebook science, etc. and they did in their pre-print.  You can find the pre-print here: see Figure 3A for Andy’s data and the acknowledgments section.
 I think it’s a great success story because (A) they never would have known about our data if it weren’t open.  It didn’t necessarily have to have an open license, but it needed to be discoverable.  (B) we never would have thought to use our data for this purpose.  So obviously value was created via openness. OK, I’ll try to write up the story in a blog or something soon!  (Maybe I should just post the above and not worry about wording it better? J )

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