The hottest trends around at the moment involve crowds: crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. I’ve already discussed some efforts by scientists to find alternate funding sources using things like Microryza, SciFlies, and SciFund. Today, I’m going to tell you about efforts to allow researchers to crowdsource data.

Figshare.com is a website that allows researchers to store their research data and make it persistently citable. The site allows for both private storage and public storage, and where the researcher chooses to make the material public, it’s released the most liberal Creative Commons license available, waiving copyright if possible.

The site provides an answer to a least a couple of concerns in science today. One is that scientists who are publically funded may be required by the terms of their grant to make their research public. Another is that this site encourages the publication of negative data – that is, the data where the hypothesis was disproved. Many drug companies have come under fire lately, with pundits suggesting that many actively hide bad data in order to get drugs to market faster.

Of course, this isn’t the only open data initiative available. The US government, for example, has it’s Data.gov site, and Google provides a public dataset directory here.

What are your thoughts about this and similar initiatives? Do you know of other dataset sites? Post a comment below.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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