Open data

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Where open data might fit in knowledge creation
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See also Data curation | Metadata | Open search | Open source | Semantic web | Utopia Documents

Open data refers to datasets made freely-available for usage without restrictions from copyrights, patents or other mechanisms of control. Open data is one of the major information trends to emerge in the last few years and is related to open source and open access. A vast amount of data is produced today by government, researchers and universities; in the Internet age, this data can be available to use and reuse. For open exchange to occur, data needs to be made widely-accessible and shared. To make government information openly and freely-accessible (at all levels), see open government and Open Knowledge Foundation Blog.

What is Open Data?

Open data is a philosophy and practice that seeks to make different forms of data available to the public, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control, for free and in a machine-readable format.

Similar to open access (and open movements in education), open data is concerned with making available information that can lead to more transparency in society and government. In addition, open data is linked to a number of social technologies in the cloud (e.g. social media), and, even, the semantic web. To be truly open, data will need to be presented on platforms with no restrictions, controls or barriers such as copyright, patents or governmental interference. In academic libraries, we should be performing archival functions by curating data; academic libraries have been a part of making metadata in our library catalogues freely- and openly-available. A future role for librarians is helping to locate open data.

When speaking of research data in medicine, we think of information resulting from experiments in biomedicine and data sets, microarray, numerical data, clinical trial data, textual records, images and multimedia. This data is critical for researchers as they do their work for it helps them validate findings, observations and hypotheses of various kinds. By making data more open you make it possible to encourage more efficient knowledge production - which is recognized as critical to solving society's most pressing problems.

Select open data projects & initiatives

  • DataCite Canada's services are offered in cooperation with DataCite, an international consortium of national-scale libraries and research organizations committed to increasing access to research data on the Internet
  • DataCite Canada is DataCite's DOI allocation agent for Canada
  • DataCite promotes the value of data archiving, citation and discoverability within Canada

Select examples of other open data

See also Open access

Canadian perspective

This conference will showcase the breadth and depth of health data available to researchers, planners, academics and decision-makers, and provide excellent opportunities to share information and to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. Hence, Health Data: Pushing the Boundaries is the theme of this year’s Health Data Users Conference sponsored by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). The program for the conference will consist of two tracks (Methods and techniques / Data informing decisions), each targeting a different perspective on using health data. The event will take place in Ottawa on September 22-23, 2011.


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