Session Title: How, When, and Why are Data Open? Competing Perspectives on Open Data in Science

Session Organisers: Christine Borgman

Session Description:

Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. Similarly, everybody talks about open data, but few can do anything about it. “Open,” “data,” and “open data” each incorporate a plethora of concepts that vary by domain, context, and stakeholder. Scientists, software developers, librarians, data scientists, policy makers, and prospective data users often bring different conceptions to the discussion. The lack of agreement on meanings of “open data,” much less on the associated value, processes, and mechanisms, has stymied progress in practice and in policy. Rather than assuming that a single definition is possible or desirable, this panel session will compare approaches to open data across domains and across stakeholder perspectives. We bring together empirical studies of data practices in earth and geo-sciences, microbiology, biomedicine, astronomy, and climate modeling to explore questions about the value, risks, costs, benefits, behaviors, and processes associated with open data. Speakers are drawn from the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures at UCLA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in Boulder, Colorado, and the Research Data Alliance (RDA). Each speaker will address a common set of questions, drawing upon research conducted at a distributed, multi-disciplinary site. These questions include:


·      What perspective do you bring to open data in this domain? Creator, user, manager, observer, re-user, steward, policy maker, or other role?

·      What are these data and how are they used in science?

·      Who are the stakeholders in these data?

·      What is the scale of these data, in terms of volume, complexity, temporality, rates of change, and other factors?

·      What are the characteristics of data release in this community?

·      What are the characteristics of data reuse in this community?

·      What data are considered “open,” and how do notions of openness vary among the stakeholders in this community?


Christine Borgman, who directs the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures at UCLA, will present framing remarks and moderate the panel. Irene Pasquetto, UCLA, will report findings from FaceBase, an NIH-funded collaboration to share data in craniofacial research. She will discuss how perspectives on open data in this community vary between scientists, computer scientists developing a sharing hub, and potential users. Also from UCLA, Ashley Sands will report on SDSS and LSST, two major astronomy sky surveys, with respect to how openness has evolved over the course of several decades. From NCAR, Matthew Mayernik presents a data professional’s perspective on how openness is manifested in different meteorological and atmospheric data repositories. Mark Parsons, RDA, will discuss how arctic data services evolved over multiple decades within the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) as the array of stakeholders with interest in arctic data has expanded and uses of the data have become politically, as well as scientifically, contentious. After a 5-minute overview by Prof. Borgman, these five speakers will make 8 to 10-minute presentations, leaving 45 minutes for discussion with the audience.


This session has 4 papers.


This session has 1 posters.