The aim of the foresight study is to identify potentially far-reaching implications of 'Big Data' for scientific research. The perspective adopted is that Dutch science can acquire a leading position internationally in the field of research using 'Big Data'.
Using 'Big Data' can have far-reaching implications for scientific research. That means not just data assembled in order to conduct scientific research but also data collected for other purposes, of which there is a rapidly growing stream, for example 'twitter data' and 'consumer data'.
The Academy has set up a 'Big Data' committee to carry out a wide-ranging foresight study of the effects of 'Big Data' on scientific research, from the perspective that Dutch science can acquire a leading position internationally in the field of research using 'Big Data'. The emphasis is on scientific disciplines that work with data about people.
The committee’s first task will be to carry out the foresight study already referred to, with the main questions being:
- How, and to what extent, is scientific research changing due to 'Big Data'?
- What are the opportunities and threats to the application of 'Big Data' in scientific research in the Netherlands?
- How can we seize those opportunities and counter those threats, and under what conditions can such research be facilitated?
- What are the limits to the use of 'Big Data' for scientific research, and under what conditions is such research allowable (including legally)?
- Is the quality of 'Big Data' sufficient for scientific research, and what issues demand attention if the quality of 'Big Data' is to be ensured?
The committee’s second task will be to prepare an Academy advisory report on a number of selected topics. Given that 'Big Data' involves a very varied field, the committee – based on its own foresight study – will make a well-argued selection of topics to be advised on, in particular in the light of the opportunities and threats.
The 'Big Data' committee will submit a reviewed foresight report to the Board of the Academy at the end of 2016.