Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That day has arrived, and Canada must seize it (more on CIHR)

Another thought on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Consultation on their Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs (comments due November 24, 2006).

This policy is leading-edge in the area of open data. But, does it go far enough?

The Final Report of the National Consultation on Access to Scientific Research Data recommends a much stronger leadership role for Canada. Two paragraphs from this Report explain beautifully why open data is so important:

Complex and rich arrays of scientific databases are changing how research is done, speeding discovery and creating new concepts. Increased access will accelerate these changes, creating a new world of research and a whole new world. When these databases are combined within and between disciplines and countries, fundamental leaps in knowledge can occur that transform our understanding of life, the world and the universe.

For example, in the analysis of human genetics, the technology to capture enormous amounts of data and to mine them for new information is already showing the genetic make-up of life and the understanding of numerous diseases and syndromes. We will soon be able to analyze such complexities as the pre-disposition to disease in animal and plant populations based on genetics, social and environmental conditions, and demographics, so that all these factors can become part of new disease prevention strategies. With the ability to access and integrate data compiled in different fields, totally new knowledge regimes are being opened in ways that have historically been impossible.

Thanks to report authors David F. Strong & Peter B. Leach, for the report from which is drawn the title of this blogpost, and to Kathleen Shearer of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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