The New Symposium on Open Data organized by the Board on Research Data and Information (BRDI) was held on December, 1 in Washington DC. Stevan Harnad participated virtually. In his video that has now been made publicly available, he once again stresses the risks of providing open access to research data as opposed to providing open access to research articles.
Harnad reminds us of the growth of OA journals which have now been made harvestable by OAI software, and of the impact that such journals have made possible for scientists whose citation rates have now increased. He also points out that most researchers would not make their papers OA until their institutions mandate it. Thus, the growth in the number of OA mandates embraced by institutions such as NIH, MIT or Harvard, compel around 90% of scientists who are working in those institutions to agree to making their research articles OA.
All this success, we are warned, may be endangered by asking scientists to provide open access to their research data. Harnad repeats: “Scientists and scholars are not data-gatherers, they are analyzers and interpreters of data.” The motivation of scientists to gather data for their research may be reduced if the data is to be released immediately upon being gathered. “This would not be welcomed by most researchers,” Harnad insists. “Researchers will need to be allowed exclusive first-exploitation rights on their data, even if the data gathering was publicly funded. The fundamental pragmatic motivational difference between open access to research articles and open access to research data needs to be understood,” he concludes.