Important dates

  • First come, first served
    Lightning talk requests
  • February 22, 2012
    Call for presentations closes
  • February 29, 2012
    Schedule released
  • March 23
    Award nominations closes
  • March 29, 2012
    RDFC 2012

Presentation: Guðmundur Þórisson

Open access to scientific research data

The pursuit of scientific knowledge is built on a foundation of published, peer-reviewed, reproducible and verifiable research findings. Collection and analysis of data – generated via artificial experiments or gathered via observations of the natural world – has always been at the core of this enterprise and its importance has been growing. Fueled by huge advances in computer technology and the emergence of the Internet in only the past two decades, the “digital revolution” has enabled so-called “Big Science” fields such as genomics, astronomy and high-energy particle physics to address scientific questions not previously practical, possible or even imagined. Key to the tremenduous recent advances in these fields has been broad sharing of the data generated, often via deposition in online digital repositories or specialized databases.

However, outside of a small number of these high-profile disciplines and/or certain classes of data where data sharing is more or less the norm, there are signs of trouble. A great deal of research is being published based on primary or processed data that is in one way or another inaccessible (e.g. behind a journal paywall, or simply unpublished), or accessible but nearly or completely unusable (e.g. non-standard data formats, insufficient descriptive metadata).
This is truly alarming, because these research findings are therefore often not amenable to be independently reproduced, verified & validated by other researchers. The current situation also results in wasted opportunities and far from optimal use of research funding. Research data can frequently be reused and re-purposed, often via integration with other, related datasets to address different scientific questions not considered original study that generated the data. Many important datasets are heavily under-utilized and could – with better access and a focus on maximizing reuse value – have a great deal more scientific impact.

The presentation will outline some of these important issues around research data sharing, data use/reuse and data citation, and discuss some key parts of the solution(s) going forward, with a focus on several relevant international efforts.

About Guðmundur Þórisson

Gudmundur ‘Mummi’ Thorisson is an academic and consultant interested in scientific communication, in particular as this relates to open access to and use/reuse of research data in the life sciences. He has been involved in various projects relating to identity & unique identifiers in research and scholarly communication, most recently the Open Researcher and Contributor ID initiative and VIVO. Through his work in the GEN2PHEN project he has contributed to a number of database projects in the biomedical research domain.

Gudmundur holds a PhD from the University of Leicester, where he is currently employed part-time as post-doctoral researcher, whilst also working with researchers at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik where he is now based. Before starting postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom in 2006, Gudmundur spent a number of years working as a scientific programmer in industry and academia, after graduating with a B.Sc. degree in biology from the University of Iceland.

Some relevant fragments of Gudmundur’s public online identity:

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