ARL, Johns Hopkins University Libraries, and SPARC Reply to White House RFI on Public Access to Digital Data

The Association of Research Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University Libraries, and SPARC have replied to the White House's Request for Information: Public Access to Digital Data Resulting from Federally Funded Scientific Research.

Here's an excerpt:

Question 1

What specific Federal policies would encourage public access to and the preservation of broadly valuable digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research, to grow the U.S. economy and improve the productivity of the American scientific enterprise?

Comment 1

The most effective Federal policies in this regard would mandate digital data deposit into publicly accessible repositories. In the absence of such policies, there are already cases of digital data which have been lost or remain inaccessible or accessible only with high barriers. While laudable efforts such as the NSF and NIH data management plans move the community in the direction of supporting U.S. economic growth and productivity, the reality is that many researchers continue to strictly interpret the requirement as sharing data based on specific requests or personal provisions. The Federal policy framework should move public access to digital data away from the current idiosyncratic environment to a systematic approach that lowers barriers to data access, discovery, sharing and re-use.

Instead of relying upon individual investigators to interpret and support public access through a point to point network (e.g., researcher provides digital data upon request), Federal policies should ensure that public access can occur through well managed, sustained, preservation archives that enable a legally and policy compliant peer to peer model for sharing. A useful metric for full-fledged public access to digital data is whether someone (or some machine) other than the original data producer can discover, access, interpret and use the digital data without contacting the original data producer.

See also Columbia University Libraries/Information Services' reply and the Creative Commons' reply.

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