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Science International 2015: Big Data/Open Data

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CODATA has been asked to take a leading role in Science International 2015: Big Data/Open Data.  The Expert Working Group that has been tasked with producing the international science ‘accord’ that is the principal output of this initiative, is being chaired by CODATA President Geoffrey Boulton.

Science International
Science International is a new coalition of the major international science bodies – ICSU, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and the International Social Science Council (ISSC) – to bring its members’ combined international representation and credibility to act as a single global voice for science in the international policy arena. For the first edition of Science International, the four partner organizations have selected the issue of ‘Big Data/Open Data’.

Science International 2015: Big Data/Open
‘Big data’ has emerged as a major opportunity for scientific discovery, while ‘open data’ will enhance the efficiency, productivity and creativity of the public research enterprise and counteract tendencies towards the privatisation of knowledge. In addition, concurrent open publication of the data underpinning scientific papers can provide the basis of scientific ’self correction’. For organisations, individuals and society to maximise the benefits of big data, however, will depend on the extent to which there is open access to publicly-funded scientific data.

In this regard, there are a growing number of calls from various actors, both within and outside the scientific community, and from inter-governmental bodies such as the G8, the OECD and the UN, for open access to publicly-funded scientific data, especially regarding data of particular importance to major global challenges.

Full exploitation of ‘big data’, however, will also depend on the extent to which national science systems are able to develop the capacity to use it, on avoiding the creation of new ‘knowledge divides’, and on deciding which data can be made open for use and re-use.
‘Big Data/Open Data’ will therefore be the subject of the first meeting of Science International, to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, from 7-9 December 2015. The meeting will be hosted by South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology and held in parallel with the first South African Open Science Forum and a planned G77 Ministerial meeting.

At the meeting, the Science International partner organizations will agree an international science ‘accord’ on Big Data/Open Data. The accord will be prepared by an expert working group jointly appointed by the partner organizations and will be presented in Pretoria at the G77 + China Ministerial Forum and the Open Science Forum.

The meeting will also recommend a global plan for data science capacity development, with an initial focus on Africa.

Objectives of the Accord

  • Develop and advance an internationally-agreed set of principles and associated processes that will help to ensure that data remains open to review and widely available. This will maximise the creativity and productivity of national and international science systems and help ensure the transparency of the research enterprise.
  • Seek the support of national governments, research councils, academies, scientific publishers, donor foundations and other scientific institutions for the principles expressed in this accord.
  • Provide a set of guidelines that can form the basis of a new capacity development effort on open data in developing and emerging countries.

Expert Working Group
The following have agreed to participate in the expert working group, which will lead the process of drafting the Big Data/Open Data accord:

  • Chair: Geoffrey Boulton (president, CODATA)
  • Dominique Babini (coordinator, open access programme department, Latin American Council of Social Sciences – CLACSO)
  • Simon Hodson (executive director, CODATA)
  • Jianhui Li (Computer Network Information Centre, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Maria Musoke (Makere University, Uganda)
  • Sally Wyatt (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences).
  • Paul Uhlir (independent consultant, formerly National Academy of Sciences, USA).

This core group will be assisted by a wider network of expert ‘readers’ identified from among the members and networks of the Science International partner organizations.

Further information: