The ICSU vision explicitly recognises the value of data and information to science and particularly emphasises the urgent requirement for universal and equitable access to high quality scientific data and information. A universal public domain for scientific data and information will be transformative for both science and society.
The Strategic Coordinating Committee on Information and Data has produced an interim report that makes 14 recommendations to improve universal and equitable access to data and information for science. These 14 recommendations are presented below in summary form.
ICSU should ensure that National Members and Union Members adopt the guide to best practice presented in Appendix B of this report, either through their own data and information committees or commissions (where these exist), or independently. ICSU should also ensure that the guide is followed by all new ICSU projects and programmes.
ICSU should establish a forum for the exploration and eventual agreement in relation to science of all the terms used under the broad umbrella of Open Access.
ICSU should use the OECD guidelines that have already been agreed implicitly by 33 of its National Members, and have provided a general framework for several existing discipline-specific data access and sharing policies, as the basis for a forum to discuss and agree a set of principles among all ICSU National Members.
ICSU should engage actively with publishers of all kinds together with the library community and with scientific researchers to document and promote community best practice in the handling of supplemental material, publication of data and appropriate data citation. The WDS conference to be held in Kyoto in September 2011 provides a very convenient starting point for this engagement.
CODATA should consider as the theme for its 2012 biennial conference how data science can support the delivery of the science goals of the major ICSU Earth System Research for Global Sustainability initiative and the Planet under Pressure conference organized by ICSU’s Global Environmental Change programmes planned for March 2012 in London.
We recommend the development of education at university level in the new and vital field of data science, using the curriculum included in an appendix of this report as a starting point.
Both the CODATA and the World Data System biennial conferences should include forums for data professionals to share experiences across a range of science disciplines.
The WDS, once fully established, should increase the visibility of data centres and their data management procedures within the scientific community.
We recommend the analysis of storage models and means, including the possibility of creating an analogue with digital deposit libraries.
ICSU should exploit more fully the expertise in data standards already present in CODATA, the WDS and in its scientific union members to assist in the definition and maintenance of high level data standards appropriate to meet both disciplinary requirements and overall science interoperability standards.
ICSU should develop a better mechanism to insert a science perspective into general standards bodies such as ISO, OGC, IEEE and the World Wide Web Consortium. Suitable expertise exists in the ICSU family but it is scattered in an uncoordinated way across scientific unions.
We recommend that ICSU uses CODATA, the WDS and the National and Union Members in a coordinated way to improve access to data and information in less economically developed countries.
ICSTI should enlarge its existing dialogue with the private sector to include both more commercial companies and more ICSU National and Union Members to explore how science and commerce can exploit data and information to mutual benefit.
The WDS should be the natural home for science in-reach activities and should work with CODATA on raising visibility of data and information management by scientists.