National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

BITS OF POWER

Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data

Committee on Issues in the Transborder Flow of Scientific Data

U.S. National Committee for CODATA

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1997

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation (under grant no. INT-9507279), the National Library of Medicine (under purchase orders 467-FZ-501994, 467-MZ-60063 1, and 467-FZ-402090), the Defense Technical Information Center (under purchase order no. D-03-94 and award no. SP060096P0470), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (under purchase order S-73093-Z), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (under contract no. 50SBNB6C9118), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under grant nos. NA56EC0622 and 56-DKNA-7-95101), and the Department of Energy (under grant no. DE-FG0296ER30277).

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Bits of power : issues in global access to scientific data / Committee on Issues in the Transborder Flow of Scientific Data, U.S. National Committee for CODATA, Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications, National Research Council.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-309-05635-7

1. Communication in science. 2. Research—Information services. 3. Database management. 4. Information technology. I. U.S. National Committee for CODATA. Committee on Issues in the Transborder Flow of Scientific Data. Q223.B58 1997 97-4836

Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data is available from the

National Academy Press,
2101 Constitution Ave., NW, Box 285, Washington, DC 20055 (1-800-824-6242; http://www.nap.edu).

Cover photo courtesy of Peter Arnold, Inc., New York, N.Y.

Copyright 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

COMMITTEE ON ISSUES IN THE TRANSBORDER FLOW OF SCIENTIFIC DATA

R. STEPHEN BERRY,

University of Chicago,

Chair

SHELTON A. ALEXANDER,

Pennsylvania State University

BETH E. ALLEN,

University of Minnesota

MARION BAUMGARDNER,

Purdue University

ANNE W. BRANSCOMB,

Harvard University

JOLIE A. CIZEWSKI,

Rutgers University

MARTIN W. DUBETZ,

Washington University

GERALD R. FAULHABER,

University of Pennsylvania

JOANNE I. GABRYNOWICZ,

University of North Dakota

PAUL H. GINSPARG,

Los Alamos National Laboratory

WILLIAM E. GORDON,

Rice University

RICHARD E. HALLGREN,

American Meteorological Society

DONALD W. KING,

King Research

MICAH I. KRICHEVSKY,

Bionomics International

THOMAS F. MALONE,

Sigma Xi

JERRY M. MELILLO,

Marine Biological Laboratory (through May 1996)

JEROME H. REICHMAN,

Vanderbilt University

B.K. RICHARD, TRW ETHAN J. SCHREIER,

Space Telescope Science Institute

DIETER SOLL,

Yale University

JACK H. WESTBROOK,

Brookline Technologies

RONALD L. WIGINGTON,

American Chemical Society (retired)

National Research Council Staff

PAUL F. UHLIR, Study Director

JULIE M. ESANU, Program Associate

DAVID BASKIN, Project Assistant

ALEXANDRA C. SPAITH, Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

U.S. NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR CODATA

DAVID R. LIDE, JR.,

National Institute of Standards and Technology (retired),

Chair

STANLEY M. BESEN,*

Charles River Associates, Inc.

LOIS BLAINE,

American Type Culture Collection

WILLIAM BONNER,

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

EVAN BUCK,

Union Carbide Corporation

NAHUM D. GERSHON,

MITRE Corporation

ALI GHOVANLOU,

Department of Energy

BRUCE GRITTON,

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

JULIAN HUMPHRIES,

Cornell University

MICAH I. KRICHEVSKY,

Bionomics International

DAVID MARK,

State University of New York at Buffalo

GOETZ OERTEL,

Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

STANLEY RUTTENBERG,*

National Center for Atmospheric Research (retired)

PAMELA SAMUELSON,*

University of California at Berkeley

National Research Council Staff

PAUL F. UHLIR, Director

JULIE M. ESANU, Program Associate

DAVID BASKIN, Project Assistant

ALEXANDRA C. SPAITH, Project Assistant

*  

Term ended June 30, 1996.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS

ROBERT J. HERMANN,

United Technologies Corporation,

Co-Chair

W. CARL LINEBERGER,

University of Colorado,

Co-Chair

PETER M. BANKS,

Environmental Research Institute of Michigan

LAWRENCE D. BROWN,

University of Pennsylvania

RONALD G. DOUGLAS,

Texas A&M University

JOHN E. ESTES,

University of California at Santa Barbara

L. LOUIS HEGEDUS,

Elf Atochem North America, Inc.

JOHN E. HOPCROFT,

Cornell University

RHONDA J. HUGHES,

Bryn Mawr College

SHIRLEY A. JACKSON, U.S.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

KENNETH H. KELLER,

University of Minnesota

KENNETH I. KELLERMANN,

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

MARGARET G. KIVELSON,

University of California at Los Angeles

DANIEL KLEPPNER,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JOHN KREICK,

Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company

MARSHA I. LESTER,

University of Pennsylvania

THOMAS A. PRINCE,

California Institute of Technology

NICHOLAS P. SAMIOS,

Brookhaven National Laboratory

L.E. SCRIVEN,

University of Minnesota

SHMUEL WINOGRAD,

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

CHARLES A. ZRAKET,

MITRE Corporation (retired)

NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director

PAUL F. UHLIR, Associate Executive Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

Preface

Science is perhaps the most truly international of human enterprises, not because it is based on cooperation among nations but rather because its practitioners collaborate and compete in an endeavor in which nationality tends to be irrelevant. Since Galileo corresponded with Kepler and Leeuwenhoek sent his observations to the Royal Society in London, the internationalization of science has grown steadily, with post-World War II travel and fellowship support, growing numbers of opportunities for academic exchanges, and, most recently, electronic information exchange and the end of the Cold War. Financial support for science, especially by governments, has been crucial in enabling this international interchange.

At the same time, such support has made possible a manifold expansion of science, in numbers of scientists, institutions, and publications. The amount of scientific data has grown both because there are more scientists and because with technological advances, each of them can produce more data than ever before.

But as new technologies and working styles rapidly supersede older ones, altogether new problems are appearing that affect how data are handled and used. Some of these are technical; others are directly related to the substance of the science itself. Still others involve legal, economic, and social dilemmas that arise when the work of scientists is integrated into the daily life of the larger society. One such issue that is particularly important for science concerns the exchange of scientific data, especially exchange across national boundaries. Factors affecting exchange of data in the natural sciences, and the significance of important changes affecting access to data, are the central topic of this report.

In 1994 the U.S. National Committee for the Committee on Data for Science

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

and Technology (CODATA),1 organized under the Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications of the National Research Council, established the Committee on Issues in the Transborder Flow of Scientific Data to investigate the changing environment for the international exchange of scientific data in the natural sciences. The results of the study committee's deliberations constitute the substance of this report. Its aim is to examine the current state of global access to scientific data, to identify strengths, problems, and challenges that exist today or appear likely to arise in the next few years, and to recommend actions to build on those strengths and ameliorate or avoid those problems. The focus is on data in the natural sciences, because that is the primary subject-matter purview of CODATA, but this should not be interpreted as implying that the committee considers engineering or social science data to be less important. Although many of the issues identified in this study pertain to those other discipline domains as well, they involve different contexts and problems that require additional study.

The committee included practicing scientists who both contribute to and use the data resources needed in international scientific efforts, computer scientists and engineers who create and maintain the means for such exchange, economists who interpret how the scientific enterprise sustains itself in the larger society, and lawyers who specialize in scientific data problems. Learning to talk with each other and to understand different perspectives was a necessary step toward reaching some agreement on important issues and crafting recommendations to address them. In all of these efforts, the focus was on understanding how to ensure global access to the data required to conduct basic research in the natural sciences. The committee's specific recommendations are presented in the relevant sections of the main text and are listed together in the summary that begins this report.

R. Stephen Berry, Chair

Committee on Issues in the Transborder Flow of Scientific Data

Paul F. Uhlir, Study Director

1  

CODATA is an interdisciplinary committee of the International Council of Scientific Unions. CODATA is concerned with all types of quantitative and qualitative data resulting from experimental measurements or observations in the physical, biological, geological, and astronomical sciences. Particular emphasis is given to data management problems common to different scientific disciplines and to data used outside the field in which they were generated. The general objectives are the improvement of the quality and accessibility of data, as well as the methods by which data are acquired, managed, and analyzed; the facilitation of international cooperation among those collecting, organizing, and using data; and the promotion of an increased awareness in the scientific and technical community of the importance of these activities. Additional information about CODATA is available on-line at <http://www.cisti.nrc.ca/programs/codata/welcome.html> or from the CODATA Secretariat, 51 Boulevard de Montmorency, 75016 Paris, France.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

Acknowledgments

The study committee is very grateful to the many individuals who played a significant role in the completion of this study. The committee held its first meeting on January 20-22, 1995, and extends its thanks to the following individuals who provided briefings and other information from the study's sponsoring agencies: Gerald Barton and Christopher Miller of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; William Blanpied of the National Science Foundation; Joseph Bredekamp of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Kurt Molholm of the Defense Technical Information Center; John Rumble of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Elliot Siegel of the National Library of Medicine. At this meeting, the committee also received background briefings from other federal agency representatives, including Gesina C. (Cynthia) Carter, Wanda Farrell, and Jay Snoddy of the Department of Energy; Paul Kanciruk of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Dorothy Bergamaschi of the Department of State.

The committee also extends its thanks to the issue area experts who briefed the committee at its September 22-24, 1995, meeting: Gershon Sher of the National Science Foundation, Gregory van der Vink of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, Carlos Gamboa of the Pan American Health Organization, Amy Gimble of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Lane Smith of the U.S. Agency for International Development participated in a roundtable discussion of data access issues in less developed countries; Hal Varian of the University of California at Berkeley discussed economic aspects of data transfer on the Internet; John Baumgarten of Proskauer, Rose, Goetz, and Mendelsohn, Mary Levering of the Library of Congress, Ed-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
×

ward Malloy of the State Department, Pamela Samuelson of the University of California at Berkeley, and Peter Weiss of the Office of Management and Budget participated in a discussion concerning intellectual property issues; and Richard Greenfield of the National Science Foundation provided an update of the World Meteorological Organization's data exchange policy.

The committee is very appreciative, as well, of the contributions of the more than 200 individuals who responded to the committee's "Inquiry to Interested Parties" (see Appendix D of this report)1 and of the many data experts who responded to specific requests for information used in the body of the report. In addition, the committee would like to express its gratitude to the members of the U.S. National Committee for CODATA, who provided oversight of this study, and the following ex officio members, who provided liaison with other relevant activities: David R. Lide, Jr., consultant and chair of the U.S. National Committee for CODATA; Francis Bretherton, of the University of Wisconsin, chair of the National Research Council's Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data; and Ferris Webster, of the University of Delaware, chair of the CODATA Working Group on Data Access. The committee also wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Anne Linn, director of the Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data, and Wendy White, director of the Committee on International Organizations and Programs.

Finally, the committee would like to recognize the invaluable contributions of the National Research Council staff without whom this report could not have been completed: Paul F. Uhlir, associate executive director of the Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications, who served as study director; Julie M. Esanu, for the program and research assistance provided to the committee; David Baskin and Alexandra Spaith for the staff support to the committee; and editorial consultant Roseanne Price, who edited the final manuscript.

1  

An edited compilation of the responses to the committee's "Inquiry to Interested Parties" is available on the U.S. National Committee for CODATA's World Wide Web site at <http://www.nas.edu/cpsma/codata.htm>.

Page xiii Cite
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This study is dedicated in fond memory of Gesina C. (Cynthia) Carter, director of the U.S. National Committee for CODATA from 1978 to 1991.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1997. Bits of Power: Issues in Global Access to Scientific Data. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5504.
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Since Galileo corresponded with Kepler, the community of scientists has become increasingly international. A DNA sequence is as significant to a researcher in Novosibirsk as it is to one in Pasadena. And with the advent of electronic communications technology, these experts can share information within minutes. What are the consequences when more bits of scientific data cross more national borders and do it more swiftly than ever before? Bits of Power assesses the state of international exchange of data in the natural sciences, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. The committee makes recommendations about access to scientific data derived from public funding. The volume examines:

  • Trends in the electronic transfer and management of scientific data.
  • Pressure toward commercialization of scientific data, including the economic aspects of government dissemination of the data.
  • The implications of proposed changes to intellectual property laws and the role of scientists in shaping legislative and legal solutions.
  • Improving access to scientific data by and from the developing world.

Bits of Power explores how these issues have been addressed in the European Community and includes examples of successful data transfer activities in the natural sciences. The book will be of interest to scientists and scientific data managers, as well as intellectual property rights attorneys, legislators, government agencies, and international organizations concerned about the electronic flow of scientific data.

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