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Beijing Declaration on Research Data released by CODATA

Date: Nov 12, 2019

By Committee on Data of International Science Council (CODATA)

Grand challenges related to the environment, human health, and sustainability confront science and society. Understanding and mitigating these challenges in a rapidly changing environment require data[1] to be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) and as open as possible on a global basis. Scientific discovery must not be impeded unnecessarily by fragmented and closed systems, and the stewardship of research data should avoid defaulting to the traditional, proprietary approach of scholarly publishing. Therefore, the adoption of new policies and principles, coordinated and implemented globally, is necessary for research data and the associated infrastructures, tools, services, and practices. The time to act on the basis of solid policies for research data is now.

The Beijing Declaration is intended as a timely statement of core principles to encourage global cooperation, especially for public research data. It builds on and acknowledges the many national and international efforts that have been undertaken in the policy and technical spheres on a worldwide basis. These major contributions are listed in the Appendix.

Several emergent global trends justify and precipitate this declaration of principles:

1. Massive global challenges require multilateral and cross-disciplinary cooperation and the broad reuse of data to improve coherence concerning recent UN landmark agreements, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Plant Treaty, the World Humanitarian Summit, and others. The comprehensive agendas for action provided by these agreements requires access to and reuse of all kinds of data.

2. Research and problem-solving, especially addressing the SDG challenges, are increasingly complex and driven by ‘big data’, resulting in the need to combine and reuse very diverse data resources across multiple fields. This poses an enormous challenge in the interoperability of data and responsible stewardship, with full respect for privacy.

3. Rapid advances in the technologies that generate and analyze data pose major challenges concerning data volume, harmonization, management, sharing, and reuse. At the same time, emerging technologies (including machine learning) offer new opportunities that require access to reusable data available in distributed, yet interoperable, international data resources.

4. Changing norms and ethics encourage high-quality research through greater transparency, promote the reuse of data, and improve trustworthiness through the production of verifiable and reproducible research results. Increasing the openness of research data is efficient, improving the public return on investment, and generating positive externalities.

5. Open Science initiatives are emerging globally, including in less economically developed countries. There consequently are opportunities for these countries to take advantage of technological developments to develop a greater share in scientific production. Without determined action, there is also a risk that the divide in scientific production will widen.

In September 2019, CODATA and its Data Policy Committee convened in Beijing to discuss current data policy issues and developed a set of data policies adapted to the new Open Science paradigm. The Declaration proposed below is the result of that meeting and is now put forward for public review.

The Beijing Declaration on Research Data can be read here via CODATA website.

[1] In the attached document we deliberately use the word data very broadly, to comprise data (stricto sensu) and the ecosystem of digital things that relate to data, including metadata, software and algorithms, as well as physical samples and analogue artefacts (and the digital representations and metadata relating to these things).

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