[odc-discuss] qualities of research data in open licensing
jo.walsh at ed.ac.uk
Sat Jul 17 23:25:36 UTC 2010
Regarding this question of whether public domain style or share-alike
style licences are more appropriate for research data:
I would say that in the large part, at the core, the sciences and arts
and humanities work with different qualities of data - broadly, data
that is independent of time and data that is not.
Open science has dominated the discussion of open data for research as
yet - because very early and obvious impulses for open data came from
the sciences, along with a well-developed tradition of activism.
To generalise yet more wildly, science deals with data that is. Once a
set of observations is complete, from sensors, measurements during an
experiment, or enumeration of bits of a genome - the data is done;
there's no idea of going back and correcting it.
In "arts and humanities" data more often is subject to revision,
change in nature as well as augmentation. New imaging techniques
reveal that ancient tablets have been misread; concordance of more
texts reveal placenames and jargon being commonly used in different
ways at different times than previously thought; pottery shards have
different cultural meanings in the light of later discoveries of
The point: a ShareAlike license may be more valuable in the humanities
just because of the quality of the data concerned; ethical and
political considerations about data sharing aside. A corrected version
of a data source may easily become a more canonical source; for the
originators not only to have full credit but to benefit from others
work in contributions back, seems critical to development across
disciplines, indeed to the worthwhileness at all of future work.
Corrections, clarifications welcome.
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