Using This Service
For information on using this service check out the guide.
Have feedback (questions, bugs, etc)? Email us at [email protected].
We aim to make it easy for people – like you – to make enquires of data holders, about the openness of the data they hold — and to record publicly the results of those efforts. We're especially focused on scientific data but anyone can use this service.
We're inspired by What Do They Know?, a site which allow citizens to make requests to find out information to which they have a right. It works by identifying the right place to ask, assisting users make requests and publicly displaying the results.
All requests sent by this service, and all responses to those requests, will be made publicly available on this website and may be freely accessed copied by anyone. Formally, all material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License v3.0.
We will not disclose emails of users of this service unless required to by law (or you ask us to disclose your address). For more information see http://www.okfn.org/privacy-policy. Details of 'data handlers' to whom requests are addressed will generally be published though we do (partially) obfuscate email addresses.
Yes! All the code and content (excluding requests) on this site is openly licensed under, respectively, the GNU Affero GPL v3.0 and a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike v3. The code can be obtained from our mercurial repository.
Open data is data that can used, reused and redistributed without restriction other than (perhaps) the requirement to attribution or share-alike. A full definition of openness is available at http://www.opendefinition.org/1.0. Data is closed if, for example, it requires additional permission or payment for its reuse.
For the purposes of this project, data includes all primary experimental data published within or alongside research papers. This could be:
Scientists produce a vast amount of data in the course of their research. In the Internet age, this data can and should be available to be used as an input into new research, but for this to happen the data needs to be explicitly labelled as open.
In practice it is often unclear whether the data on publisher's websites is openly available i.e accessible and freely re-usable without additional permission. In some cases, publishers may even restrict access to data by adding specific terms and conditions.
This despite the fact that Scholars donate their data to the community, without payment, through the publication process. They assume that anyone can then use their data for additional research and education, with the only requirement being that the original researchers are acknowledged.
This view is also supported by publishers' organizations; for example the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) have issued a statement endorsing this approach to data access.
Many publishers require that authors sign a transfer of copyright for their submitted manuscripts but this does not necessarily cover data. Here, we make no comment on Closed and Open Access to full text articles here, but argue that the data associated with publications belongs to the community and is, and should, be open.
The first method is to look on the publisher's website for their terms and conditions regarding use of their data. This may categorically state that they reserve rights to all data, alternatively they may clearly apply an open knowledge license to their data (see http://www.opendefinition.org/licenses/ for a list of such licenses). If the situation is ambiguous or unclear somebody may have requested clarification in the past (please check the archive or previous requests before sending a new one). If not, an enquiry can be made through the website.