academia

NIH Policies Improving Data Sharing

Policies put into place by major funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and to a lesser extent by scientific journals, aim to increase the sharing of scientific resources among life science investigators. There have been a lot of changes in data-sharing policies over the past 10 to 12 years, and new tools for data-sharing have become available. says lead author Genevieve Pham-Kanter , PhD, assistant professor of Health Management and Policy at Drexel University School of Public Health. He also adds: At the same time, there have been moves by many universities and academic health centers to preserve their intellectual property and limit sharing. Since there had been very little systemic evaluation of how these policies have affected scientists and their sharing behavior, we wanted to get a sense of which policies were working and which were not. In order to measure the influence of those policies, Pham-Kanter and her co-authors – Eric G. Campbell, PhD, Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH, and Darren Zinner, PhD, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University – launched a survey. Almost 1,000 out of 3,000 investigators completed and returned this survey. 65 percent of them believed that NIH […]

Padlock holding blue doors shut

Data Hoarding Kills

It may seem dramatic but data hoarding really does kill, as more and more findings show. Fast technological advances should mean faster research, faster diagnoses and faster cures. But data hoarding is slowing this process down and preventing these technological advances from having the efficient and effective results that they should. As recode.net reports, huge research institutions – from IBM to UC Berkeley –  are backing artificial intelligence and big data to develop better treatments for genetic disease. But while data hoarding continues to be common practice in research these computational tools can only produce limited results. To harness the power of these computation tools we need to open up data. The regulations need to move with the technology. Through innovative solutions data can be kept secure and anonymous without being locked away and untouchable. The consequences of data hoarding are real. Lives will be saved with improved data access. Much of the research is already out there, and the technology to quickly analyse hundreds of thousands of clinical trials and genomic data is fast being developed. Yet accessing the data remains a problem. And its one that we need to solve. Read the full story on recode.net here.  

Participants looking at some of the brainstorm post-it notes

OKFN workshop: Open Data, Personal Data and Privacy

This week the Open Knowledge Foundation ran a workshop on Open Data, Personal Data and Privacy. A recurring theme of the OKFN workshop was the interface of personal data and OpenData. The benefits of making data as easily available as possible are vast but it comes with a very sensitive issue attached. Protecting the privacy of individuals is paramount. The advantages of the transparency that OpenData brings are obvious, but for which purposes is it relevant to include personally identifiable information (PII) as OpenData, and to what extent is it possible to transform PII to OpenData or Open Knowledge. When it comes to Open Data, personal data and privacy it is important to tread carefully. One strong message from the workshop was the complexity of communicating both OpenData and privacy. For each of these terms the participants brainstormed their associations and found that the connotations of these terms vary widely depending on your background and the context the terms are applied in.  Our CEO Fiona Nielsen participated in the OKFN workshop and chaired a discussion session on the topic of data transformation through aggregation and to what extent this can be applied to transform data to openly available data sets or OpenKnowledge. If you […]

Scientific data journal

Nature launches journal: Scientific Data

This new scientific data journal for publishing data descriptors spans neuroscience, ecology, epidemiology, functional genomics and environmental science. www.nature.com/scientificdata Along with its varied content Scientific Data is the first NPG publication to implement data citations and articles cite data in figshare, OpenfMRI, GEO and GenomeRNAi. We are very pleased to see that Scientific Data promotes the Joint Data Citation Principles http://www.force11.org/datacitation .Scientific Data is collaborating broadly to promote data sharing and community standards. The launch of this journal really highlights how important the practices surrounding data are to scientific research. Hopefully the data journal will encourage better data practice, including increased availability and access.  PS. We love this video describing the rationale for creating Scientific Data 🙂

health data sharing model

Paper: Big Desire to Share Big Health Data

The recent paper, Big Desire to Share Big Health Data: A Shift in Consumer Attitudes toward Personal Health Information, exploring the desire (or lack of desire) to share big health data provides a lot of encouragement for the future of health data sharing. The paper, co-authored by K. Thomas Pickard and Melanie Swan, summarises consumer attitudes towards the sharing of personal data, taken from a survey. The online survey is ongoing and takes only 5 minutes to fill out. The findings suggest that attitudes towards data sharing are changing for the positive with more people willing to share a variety of data relating to health. Even more importantly the paper indicates that the way to increase this positive attitude towards data sharing is through education. It appears that it is those with higher levels of education who are more open to data sharing possibilities. This further highlights the already prevalent need to increase science literacy within the wider public. Another key theme, drawn out by K. Thomas Pickard in his blog, is the need to develop models to encourage data sharing and which connect consumers to their data. We have seen in the Genetics Clinic of the Future that patients represent a key aspect of the […]

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