[Wg-economics-advisory] Meeting notes from Advisory Panel conference calls

Bronwyn H. Hall bhhall at berkeley.edu
Sun Jun 30 16:16:11 UTC 2013

Dear all,

I am sorry I was unable to participate in the recent conference 
calls. Apparently I did not have the right software, and as I was 
about to leave Berkeley for 2 months of travel (Europe and US 
ocnferences) I did not have time to fix my computer.

I thought it might be useful for me to reflect on my experience with 
making data public, so I wrote the attached which describes the 
experience with some data I have used in recent papers, all the way 
from public (patent data) to almost completely locked up (UK ONS), in 
light of the goal of making at least the final data public. The 
attached document does that - it's most useful function may be to 
generate a taxonomy of data types with examples.

I hope this is useful.


At 03:12 PM 6/10/2013 -0400, Velichka Dimitrova wrote:
>Dear all,
>We held two conference calls with the Advisory Panel last week and 
>had a lot of great comments and contributions and a strong support 
>for Principles. Please find some summary notes from the calls last 
>week below and also in 
>Google Document, which allows for additional comments and feedback. 
>Let us know if you have any additional thoughts.
>Developing the culture and practice of data sharing
>    * In some communities there is already awareness about the 
> issues of data availability and reproducibility: there is a need to 
> present solutions and tools. In others there is still need to raise 
> awareness about potential benefits of open data in economics.
>    * Collaboration between different actors involved is essential: 
> e.g. librarians and research data curators are stepping in and 
> contributing to the development of bridges between communities.
>    * There is a "quasi-effective" way of making researchers publish 
> their data at the point of publishing in a journal. Learnt 
> societies like AEA are at the forefront of putting in place data 
> availability policies. Funder policies sometimes follow suit after 
> journals establish access to data requirements.
>Costs and benefits
>    * There is a need to be more explicit about the costs and 
> benefits, where preparing data in a useful format requires a lot of 
> time and resources and trade-offs exist. We should have proper use 
> cases of where sharing data has been beneficial for others.
>    * While the hosting and distribution may have lower costs e.g. 
> distribution of existing data over the Internet is not very 
> expensive, there are much larger costs associated with data 
> acquisition and data curation. Additionally, making data usable by 
> others is also costly.
>    * The is a need to emphasise credit and recognition and an 
> immediate award for the publishing of data. A data journal could 
> play an essential role in providing incentives.
>    * There was a discussion around whether some data should be 
> charged for to cover expenses associated with the data production. 
> One approach is to let the funding agencies cover such costs and 
> include requirements as part of the data sharing plans. (Principle 
> 5. has been extended to include a more specific recommendation for funders.)
>    * There are different types and categories of data - getting the 
> data which is just sitting on people's hard-drives, for which there 
> are no issues involved should be the priority at the first instance.
>    * There are issues involved relating to the lack of a central 
> repository and no uniform formats for making data available which 
> could aid in interoperability.
>Open Economics principles and steps forward
>    * There are many kinds of data in economics and a lot of 
> barriers and reasons for why much of it cannot be made public. The 
> Open Economics principles refer to the data generated with public 
> funds which can be made available and whether a strong case exist 
> that this should be done.
>    * There was a concern that the draft Principles may not 
> reinstate sufficiently the risk of de-anonymising personal data and 
> the risks involved - this acknowledgement should be emphasised 
> (Principle 2. has been extended)
>    * The Principles are short and describe some essential 
> guidelines and are not messing around with exceptions, there will 
> be some grey zones which could be covered by appendices and 
> additional material. The recommendation for preferred licenses is 
> mentioned in a footnote. Additional work may involve making 
> specific recommendations to agencies (repositories, funders) who 
> have power to implement change.
>    * These principles could apply to any discipline - there is a 
> need to distinguish what is different in economics
>    * Fellowships for early career academics would be good as 
> fellows would have more time and less of a vision and they can 
> achieve a lot with support and guidance. They can have some 
> guidelines but also room to experiment
>    * There could be also benefits in making grants for specific 
> researchers to make their data available or possibly for the 
> generation of new and interesting data.
>    * A community of senior academics should lead the effort. There 
> is also a role for early stage professionals, who may have more 
> time but lack ideas and direction - they should be also given some 
> discretion in developing their projects.
>    * Open data may be also linked with the research agendas of 
> academics and possibly more funding should be directed in that area 
> and such efforts should be also supported to insure that 
> researchers would get recognition in their communities.
>Velichka Dimitrova
>Open Economics Project Coordinator | 
>The Open Knowledge Foundation
>Empowering through Open Knowledge
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Bronwyn H. Hall
Professor of the Graduate School
University of California at Berkeley
Mailing address:
123 Tamalpais Road
Berkeley, CA 94708
URL: http://bronwynhall.com
SSRN: http://papers.ssrn.com/author=16138
RePEc: http://authors.repec.org/pro/pha54/

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