The purpose of the UK Open Research Data Forum was to identify practical steps that could be taken by UK institutions to develop an efficient and operational open data regime; to identify barriers to its implementation and how they might be resolved; to make recommendations to institutions and bodies that represent institutions that play important roles in the scientific enterprise; and to advocate to Government any steps that it could take to support necessary changes. The principles that are suggested as the rationale for the work of the Forum were set out in the appendices.
The note of the meeting captures the topics discussed at the Forum.
The initiative to create the Forum derived from the Royal Society’s 2012 report Science as an Open Enterprise and the UK Government (Research Sector Transparency Board) and international moves (e.g. G8 – June 2013) to promote an open data regime. It was conceived as a relatively small group to deliberate intensively on key issues in relation to open data for relevant UK institutions. It comprises members of research councils, funding councils and charities that fund research; universities and institutes that undertake publicly funded research; learned societies that reflect and influence the principles and priorities of their communities; those that publish the results of research; “intermediary bodies” such as libraries, and groups expert in the open data field; and private bodies, such as industry, that collaborate with publicly funded research institutions.
The focus of the Society’s report was on the natural sciences, but its recommendations apply equally to many areas of social and medical sciences, where data is most frequently in digital form. However, digital technologies are not restricted to these areas, but create challenges for the whole range of research and scholarship and to “data” that is not easily rendered into digital form. Although the initial focus of work was on digital data, the prospect of broadening its perspective to other forms of research information was considered.