When scientists carry out experiments and observations, they typically have very specific questions. It is frequently the case that data collection is relevant to issues and questions beyond the scope of the original investigation. Scientists with different backgrounds and research programs might find information relevant to their questions in already collected data. Since it is now possible to inexpensively store vast amounts of data and access it on the internet, it maximizes the return on scientific investment to make that data available to all researchers. In some cases, entirely new research projects can result. The objective of this study is to develop the details of a 3-year project that will spearhead a movement to make data sharing the norm among scientists.
This project will survey the various scientific communities – physical, biological, behavioral – to determine the benefits, the feasibility and obstacles of data sharing. There are two issues: 1) the technology of data sharing; 2) and the cultural aspects involving legal and traditional views of data ownership.
The major activities are:
- Set up a website to provide information about data sharing, updates on this effort, and also serve as a commons area where scientists can dialogue.
- Use this website for scientists to contribute issues and questions for a questionnaire.
- Post such a questionnaire and announce its availability and requesting participation in the survey.
- Develop information on the relevant technologies and costs.
- Devise a detailed 3-year project plan and budget.
Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
Making data available to a broad community increases the possibility that research conducted without Parkinson's Disease questions in mind may yield valuable insight when examined by another scientist.
This one-year pilot study will provide a "lay of the land" concerning data sharing among scientists from a technological and cultural perspective. The existence of major projects already successfully engaging in data sharing – such as the Alzheimer's Disease Neurological Imaging (ADNI) project at UCSF and the NSF-sponsored National Virtual Observatory – demonstrates that it is feasible in some fields. Based on our experience with the ADNI project, our efforts will lead to a paradigm shift in the way science is conducted.