Toward unrestricted use of public genomic data

25 January 2019  Vol 363, Issue 6425

Policy Forum
Toward unrestricted use of public genomic data
By Rudolf I. Amann, Shakuntala Baichoo, Benjamin J. Blencowe, Peer Bork, Mark Borodovsky, Cath Brooksbank, Patrick S. G. Chain, Rita R. Colwell, Daniele G. Daffonchio, Antoine Danchin, Victor de Lorenzo, Pieter C. Dorrestein, Robert D. Finn, Claire M. Fraser, Jack A. Gilbert, Steven J. Hallam, Philip Hugenholtz, John P. A. Ioannidis, Janet K. Jansson, Jihyun F. Kim, Hans-Peter Klenk, Martin G. Klotz, Rob Knight, Konstantinos T. Konstantinidis, Nikos C. Kyrpides, Christopher E. Mason, Alice C. McHardy, Folker Meyer, Christos A. Ouzounis, Aristides A. N. Patrinos, Mircea Podar, Katherine S. Pollard, Jacques Ravel, Alejandro Reyes Muñoz, Richard J. Roberts, Ramon Rosselló-Móra, Susanna-Assunta Sansone, Patrick D. Schloss, Lynn M. Schriml, João C. Setubal, Rotem Sorek, Rick L. Stevens, James M. Tiedje, Adrian Turjanski, Gene W. Tyson, David W. Ussery, George M. Weinstock, Owen White, William B. Whitman, Ioannis Xenarios
Science25 Jan 2019 : 350-352 Full Access
Publication interests should not limit access to public data
Despite some notable progress in data sharing policies and practices, restrictions are still often placed on the open and unconditional use of various genomic data after they have received official approval for release to the public domain or to public databases. These restrictions, which often conflict with the terms and conditions of the funding bodies who supported the release of those data for the benefit of the scientific community and society, are perpetuated by the lack of clear guiding rules for data usage. Existing guidelines for data released to the public domain recognize but fail to resolve tensions between the importance of free and unconditional use of these data and the “right” of the data producers to the first publication. This self-contradiction has resulted in a loophole that allows different interpretations and a continuous debate between data producers and data users on the use of public data. We argue that the publicly available data should be treated as open data, a shared resource with unrestricted use for analysis, interpretation, and publication.