10 May 2016

Research Data Things 9/23 - Licensing Data for Reuse

I am quite amazed at how quickly the position on government data has changed. Less than 5 years ago I recall very reluctant local government personnel worrying over data security. Two years later attended a forum led by a local government body asking us what data we would find useful for them to make public and in what formats and any  other issues we could foresee. They weren't promising everything, but it was a big step forward. Fast forward to December 2015 and we have the Australian Government Public Data Policy Statement, which starts at the position of open-by-default. This is a complete turn-around from closed-by-default of only a few years ago.

I can remember that at the local government forum the location of public toilets seemed to be the go-to example of data that would be useful to the public. The wonderful examples that have come out of govhack events has shown that there is more to government data than public toilets.

My experience working at a University (not a public university, but one that does obtain public funding for research - and therefore subject to conditions of ARC and NHMRC on open access) was similar. There was generally a position of who-in-their-right-mind would give away their data, to a more accepting position and willingness to consider the question. Though I'm sure there are those who still have the former view.

MPOW's Code of Conduct for Research Policy (2014) includes a clause (3.3) on access and re-use of research data and recommends a creative commons licence, but does not specify a default position.

The Challenge Me part of this thing suggests a search for data and then refining by licence type. I decided to take a look at MPOW's research repository to see if licence metadata was available for this kind of refinement. It's not. Though this data is displayed on landing pages it does not appear to be structured metadata that could be used as a facet for refinement. Ensuring that repositories make licence type metadata more visible and useful in this way may go some way to encourage researchers to think more about the best kind of licence for their data.