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Open Data: policy initiatives and its growth challenges

Open access has been embraced by scholars, universities, policy makers, funders, and NGOs. Countries have put open access policies in place, publishers made open access their only business model and traditional publishers are gradually embracing open access. As a result, open access is steadily growing.

One component of open access is open data. Research funders such as the European Commission, Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and others have been pushing disclosure of research data. They adopted open data policy primarily to ensure data reusability and transparency. They are exerting pressure on researchers to make both their research article and the underlying data openly accessible. However, researchers are lukewarm about the push for open data. Unlike publishing on open access platforms, researchers lack the enthusiasm to deposit their data on open data repositories. Only 20 to 30% of the researchers share or are willing to share their data.

On the other hand, about 44% of journals have an open data policy. Nonetheless, most of the journals are not doing enough to make sure that authors deposit their research data. However, there are journals with a stringent open data policy. Surprisingly, authors response to these journals is negative: they abandoned those publishers.

Several things might explain why this is happening. One of the factors that is discouraging authors from depositing their data on open data platform is costs associated with open data. Usually authors are required to pay for data hosting and reviewing. These cost hundreds of euros. Charging authors for data hosting is a misguided strategy,  according to Tim Vines. He argues that data hosting cost should be covered by public or private funds- i.e. authors should be reimbursed. To stimulate open data, it might be appropriate for research funders to allocate a fund for data hosting and reviewing.

ScholarlyKitchen | Is There a Business Case for Open Data?

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