Open data is data that is freely available to anyone to access, use and share. Open data affects the way research is conducted and communicated, with huge potential to make science itself more open and efficient. Greater openness provides scientists and citizen scientists greater opportunities to move science forward by supporting, rejecting or refining theories, identifying errors and creating further understanding and knowledge from the data, thereby helping to address global challenges.
Our report Science as an Open Enterprise explores how open data could lead to a new revolution in the way science is done, as wide-reaching and impactful as the revolution triggered by the first scientific journals.
Rapid, ubiquitous technological change has created new ways of acquiring, storing, manipulating and transmitting vast data volumes, as well as stimulating new habits of communication and collaboration among scientists.
Our response to the Science 2.0 Consultation outlines how these changes are causing a cultural shift in science and, to take advantage of these developments, how science needs to maintain its openness and use technology to promote open science.
The availability of vast amounts of data has created new opportunities. Data science is a novel way of doing science, by analysing or running experiments through large datasets. Citizen science projects such as Zooniverse, which engage members of the public in research programmes, can tackle large scientific problems otherwise out of scope for researchers.
Not only is open science often effective in stimulating scientific discovery, it may also help to detect and deter bad science. Making underlying scientific data open, with appropriate safeguards, could help to both identify fraudulent activity and build public trust in science. Our report on cybersecurity research will highlight the risks that accompany the benefits of data sharing, and explore a risk-based approach to sharing data.
As we explored in Knowledge, Networks and Nations, science is an ever-growing global endeavour.
Science published openly online is, inevitably, international. By fostering international science, open science is both an opportunity for collaboration and an effective way to meet pressing global challenges.
Realising the full benefits of open science requires many changes, including a shift away from a research culture where data is viewed as a private preserve.
Our grant holders are expected to give careful consideration to their approach to managing and sharing data. Scientists who publish in our journals have to follow specific policies on data sharing and mining.
We encourage all our grant holders to publish in open access journals. Two of our own journals are fully open access and we provide open access options for all of our other journals.