International consortium calls for clear policy regarding pre-publication data sharing.
Nearly 20 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., genome data producers and data users came to an accord on the use of genome sequencing data released to the public domain. In particular, they agreed that the data was freely available for use and access by the scientific community before those data are used for publication. The Fort Lauderdale Agreement did not include defined policies on data usage, and has led to years of debate, such as whether or not there was a tacit acknowledgement that data generators would have the right of first publication on the data they produced and freely shared.
In a policy paper published January 25, 2019 in Science, 50 coauthors, with 54 unique affiliations from 18 countries, call for a “clear policy that protects public data from restrictions.” The international consortium includes Nikos Kyrpides of the Biosciences Area’s Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
“We argue that the publicly available data should be treated as open data, a shared resource with unrestricted use for analysis, interpretation, and publication,” the consortium wrote. “Once data are publicly released following the data release rules of the agency that funded the project, they should be freely available for use without any restrictions or conditions.”
The article’s co-authors also include representatives from the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), an open-membership working body that engages the research community in the standards development process, and members of the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s Prokaryote Advisory Committee. Kyrpides heads the JGI’s Prokaryote Super Program.
“This policy article comes at a very critical time, following the general acceptance by the scientific community of the principles of ‘open’ and ‘FAIR’ data,” Kyrpides said. We hope that this large community effort will have a decisive impact on freeing the public data from any restrictions that are impeding the advancement of science,” he added.