Access to Scientific Data: The Social and Technical Challenges and Strategies

John D'Ignazio, Jian Qin, Yale M. Braunstein, Caroline Whitbeck, Mark Parsons, Timothy E. Eastman, and Sherry Xie. "Access to Scientific Data: The Social and Technical Challenges and Strategies." Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 43 no. 1, pp. 1-4 (2006)


The practice of science has changed in the last three decades due to the rapid development of information and communication technologies and massive increases in computing capacity, made manifest by the Internet. As the International Council for Science (ICSU) describes in its recently released five-year strategic plan, there is now more scientific data and information that is freely and openly available. This environment enables scientists around the world access to the most up-to-date data and information from his or her desktop. "Secondary analyses of data, and the combining of data from multiple sources, are opening up exciting new scientific horizons. Scientific publication practices are changing rapidly." (ICSU, 2005, 16-17) These revolutionary changes in the creation, management, and use of scientific data and information have significant economic and social implications. First among them are the economic and legal aspects provoked by open sharing versus intellectual property protection of scientific data. In addition to the impact of these issues, there are technical challenges in managing the life cycle of scientific data. Long-term preservation strategies are evolving to ensure that the authenticity of scientific data can be verified, and to enable knowledge discovery and interoperability via metadata representations of the data collections.

To maximize the impact of scientific data, the information community needs to promote new thinking and structures in society to properly collect, preserve and distribute this resource. In response to the issues and challenges in access to scientific data and information, we have arranged for a comprehensive session that examines the topic from a holistic view. For full coverage, two panels are required: one that covers the current social and policy contexts and one that covers the system developments being driven by these broader issues. The experts on both panels will contribute their experience from conducting social, economic, and technical research of scientific data and information and invite the ASIS&T annual meeting attendees to join them in discussion.


Last updated:

September 20, 2016