Leading science groups urge global accord on open data in a big data world

7 December 2015

Four major international science organisations are calling for global endorsement of an accord to help assure open access to volumes of ‘big data’ that increasingly are the basis of research and policymaking. Sally Wyatt, Programme Leader of the eHumanities Group of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, was a member of the working group that developed the accord.

The four organisations have developed and support an accord that includes a set of guiding principles on open access to big data, necessary to protect the scientific process and assure that developing countries can participate more fully in the global research enterprise. Limits on access to big data knowledge, they warn, raises the risk that progress will slow in areas such as advanced health research, environmental protection, food production and development of smart cities.

‘As the data revolution accelerates and the scientific potential of big data becomes clearer, it is timely that the major representative bodies of international science promote the importance of open data as means of maximising creativity, maintaining rigour and ensuring that knowledge is a global public good rather than just a private good,’ said Geoffrey Boulton, president of CODATA, ICSU’s Committee on Data, and leader of the working group that developed the accord.

The four science organisations behind the ‘Open Data in a Big Data World’ campaign are: The International Council of Science (ICSU); the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP); the International Social Science Council (ISSC); and The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS). Collectively, they represent more than 250 national and regional science academies, scientific unions and other organisations worldwide, with individual members at the highest levels of scientific research, policy and education.