Month of publication: April 2007
Innovative scientific research has a crucial role in addressing global challenges - ranging from health care and climate change to renewable energy and natural resources management. The speed and depth of this research depends on fostering collaborative exchanges between different communities and assuring its widest dissemination. The exchange of ideas, knowledge and data emerging from this research is fundamental for human progress.
The rapid development in computing technology and the Internet have opened up new applications for the basic sources of research – the base material of research data – which has given a major impetus to scientific work in recent years. Databases are rapidly becoming an essential part of the infrastructure of the global science system. The international Human Genome Project is but one good example of a large-scale endeavour in which openly accessible information is being used successfully by many different users, all over the world, for a great variety of purposes.
Access to research data increases the returns from public investment in this area; reinforces open scientific inquiry; encourages diversity of studies and opinion; promotes new areas of work and enables the exploration of topics not envisioned by the initial investigators.
Science and Technology Ministers called on the OECD in 2004 to develop a set of guidelines based on commonly agreed principles to facilitate cost-effective access to digital research data from public funding. The Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding are the outcome of this request. They are intended to assist all actors involved when trying to improve the international sharing of, and access to, research data.