Policy ForumDATA ACCESS

Toward unrestricted use of public genomic data

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Science  25 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6425, pp. 350-352
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1280

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Summary

Despite some notable progress in data sharing policies and practices, restrictions are still often placed on the open and unconditional use of various genomic data after they have received official approval for release to the public domain or to public databases. These restrictions, which often conflict with the terms and conditions of the funding bodies who supported the release of those data for the benefit of the scientific community and society, are perpetuated by the lack of clear guiding rules for data usage. Existing guidelines for data released to the public domain recognize but fail to resolve tensions between the importance of free and unconditional use of these data and the “right” of the data producers to the first publication. This self-contradiction has resulted in a loophole that allows different interpretations and a continuous debate between data producers and data users on the use of public data. We argue that the publicly available data should be treated as open data, a shared resource with unrestricted use for analysis, interpretation, and publication.

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