Enquiry about data openness at PLoS

Enquiry Status: Resolved (Open)

Started: Mon Aug 30 18:32:22 2010
ID: 78d7400e-6d5e-4510-aff1-0d106bb9fcfa

Message:

To: mpatterson@pl....

Subject: Enquiry about data openness at PLoS

Date: Mon Aug 30 18:32:22 2010

Status: Sent

Dear Dr Patterson,

I'm a postdoc researcher with NESCent, studying scientific data sharing and reuse. I'm writing to you, with Peter Murray-Rust, on behalf of the Open Knowledge Foundation. The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a non-profit global organization dedicated to the creation, dissemination and labelling of Open Knowledge.

On behalf of the OKF, we are writing to a large number of science publishers to ask for confirmation of their policies with respect to data published within their journals.

There is now great public interest in the Open availability of scientific data for validating scientific findings, detecting fraud and exploring new hypotheses. It is generally accepted by publishers that data per se are not copyrightable: several statements by publisher associations have made this point explictly. The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) and International Association of Scientific, Technical, & Medical Publishers (STM) issued a joint statement in 2006 recommending that "research data should be as widely available as possible." (http://www.alpsp.org/ForceDownload.asp?id=129) The 2007 Brussels Declaration from the STM states in part:

"Raw research data should be made freely available to all researchers.  
 Publishers encourage the public posting of the raw data outputs of research. 
 Sets or sub-sets of data that are submitted with a paper to a journal should 
 wherever possible be made freely accessible to other scholars." 
 http://www.stm-assoc.org/public_affairs_brussels_declaration.php

Combined with the acceptance and increasingly widepread adoption of the Panton Principles (http://pantonprinciples.org/), it is now possible to articulate policies that are consistent with the publication and reuse of Open Data.

We would like to ask your for clarification on several points with respect to your journals. It will help everyone if your answers are clear so that users of your material can know what they may and may not do without requesting further permission.

  1. May users extract raw data and metadata (contextual facts about data collection) from supplementary information published in your journal?

  2. May users extract raw data and metadata from figures, tables, and text in the narrative of your published articles?

  3. May users extract this information from freely available articles and supplementary information, as well as those that are available by subscription only? For the latter, users would obtain access through an existing subscription.

  4. May the extracted data be used as Open Data [1,2] without discrimination against users, groups, or fields of endeavor?

  5. May users expose the extracted data as Open Data [1,2], in a manner consistent with the Panton Principles (http://pantonprinciples.org/)? Specifically, may they expose the extracted data on the internet under a Public Domain, PDDL (http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/pddl/) or CC0 waiver (http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC0)?

  6. May users obtain articles and supplementary materials (other than audio and video) from your website via automated means for the purposes of extracting raw data, if it is done in a manner that does not place undue burden on your resources? Users would obtain access through an existing subscription where necessary.

  7. Will you consider displaying the OKF's "Open Data" button (http://opendefinition.org/button) as a means of clarifying to readers and users the Open parts of your material?

Our questions are being asked through the OKF's IsItOpen(Data) service (http://www.isitopendata.org), which has been designed to clarify in what sense published and online datasets are actually open. IsItOpen(Data) saves everyone time by allowing a question to be asked just once and making the reply permanently visible in a high-profile site.

On behalf of the scientific community, thank you in advance for your response. The clear labelling of Openness will save scientists hundreds of years' work per year in asking permission and speculating. Enabling open access data, both for use and reuse, will help to validate published findings, discourage fraud and misconduct, and explore new research areas. Your clear support for these principles will demonstrate the value you place on these activities and surely benefits science.

We look forward to hearing from you. Could you let us know the timeframe in which we might expect a response?

Sincerely,

Heather Piwowar, [email protected]

Peter Murray-Rust, [email protected]

on behalf of the Open Knowledge Foundation, http://okfn.org/

[1] http://www.opendefinition.org/1.0/

[2] http://www.opendefinition.org/licenses/

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Message:

To:

Subject:

Date: Tue Aug 31 10:30:15 2010

Status: Response


Message:

To: mpatterson@pl....

Subject: Re: Enquiry about data openness at PLoS

Date: Wed Sep 1 06:35:46 2010

Status: Sent

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your straightforward, quick, and positive response to our enquiry.

I have one question for clarification: does PLoS consider data to be available under CC-BY, or may it be used and redistributed under CC0, PDDL, and the like?

Thanks!

Heather

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Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on the internet for anyone to access and copy. For more information see:

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Message:

To: mpatterson@pl....

Subject: Re: Enquiry about data openness at PLoS

Date: Sat Sep 11 23:39:30 2010

Status: Sent

Dear Mark,

Thanks again for your earlier response to our enquiry. Your extracted responses are appended to the bottom of this message; as we discussed, I'm sending this follow-up email from IsItOpenData to make your response publicly viewable. You can see the thread here:

http://www.isitopendata.org/enquiry/view/78d7400e-6d5e-4510-aff1-0d106bb9fcfa/

Sorry for our earlier technical hiccups, and thanks again for your leadership in support of Open Data.

Sincerely,

Heather Piwowar and Peter Murray-Rust

============ Received: Tue, 31 Aug 2010 02:18:29 -0700 (PDT)

Hi Heather - some answers appended below in bold. Our data policy is the same for all journals, eg http://www.plospathogens.org/static/policies.action#sharing

Clearly the content is all published open access according to the CC Attribution License, so that all content can be reused without restriction. The answers below therefore reflect our OA publishing policy, although I agree that we could be more explicit about how this applies to data.

Cheers,

Mark

Mark Patterson

Director of Publishing

Public Library of Science

European Office: 7 Portugal Place, Cambridge, CB5 8AF, UK


[Responses to questions, extracted from email]

  1. YES

  2. YES

  3. YES but all articles are OA

  4. YES

  5. All content is published subject to CCAL, but what we haven't yet done is to provide an explicit statement about data reuse according to the Panton Principles. We do support these principles. [IsItOpen has asked a followup question for clarification, since the CCAL (CC-BY) license doesn't allow redistribution under a CCZero-type waiver as per the Panton Principles]

  6. YES - there might be a need to discuss this with our IT folks, to ensure that the performance of the site is not compromised etc.

  7. YES - we will consider this. We are always looking for ways to improve the way in which PLoS content is presented to emphasize that it can be reused.

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Message:

To: mpatterson@pl....

Subject: Re: Enquiry about data openness at PLoS

Date: Mon Sep 13 15:47:20 2010

Status: Sent

Dear Mark,

Thanks again for your clarification on PLoS's data redistribution license. I have copied the text you sent below: it will be viewable on the Is It Open Data? website at http://www.isitopendata.org/enquiry/view/78d7400e-6d5e-4510-aff1-0d106bb9fcfa/

"All the content that we publish, including datasets and so on, is made available under the terms of CCAL, and therefore reusable with attribution. We haven’t yet introduced an explicit statement about data being reusable under the CC zero waiver."

Many thanks for all of the time and attention you have given our enquiry.

Sincerely,

Heather, Peter, and the OKF

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Sent by "Is It Open Data?" http://isitopendata.org/ A service which helps scholars (and others) to request information about the status and licensing of data and content.

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on the internet for anyone to access and copy. For more information see:

http://isitopendata.org/about/