January 9, 2014
Recently, many initiatives have been developed in order to support open access to scientific information and to improve data sharing. Those initiatives tried to create awareness on the benefits of sharing knowledge among stakeholders such as researchers, policy makers, the general public, etc. A shift is taking place from traditional information dissemination based on proprietary data to data sharing and dissemination. However, citability of data is becoming a prominent issue in scientific publication and in scholarly communication because of the great amount of available data. Good data citation should follow the conventions and standardizations accepted by the scientific community, which means properly acknowledging the database or the biobank.
Bioresources are collections of biological samples (biobanks) with associated data, but also databases without samples, or other biomolecular and bioinformatics research tools. Bioresources may serve a critical role for the advancement of biotechnology and disease-related activities world-wide. In this field, a collaboration involving researchers and journal editors was established within the international Bioresource Research Impact Factor project (BRIF). The BRIF project aims to standardize citation format for bioresources in journal articles, and to create suitable methods to recognize and measure the use and impact of biological resources in scientific/academic work, in order to maximize access by researchers to collections of biological materials and attached databases, and to recognize efforts involved in their maintenance.The purpose of the BRIF project is to promote the sharing of bioresources by creating a link between their initiators/implementers and the impact of scientific research using them. The lack of a proper recognition of scientific contribution is a major obstacle which impedes bioresource sharing. Therefore, the BRIF initiative can be considered as a tool to facilitate research resource sharing as it aims to develop suitable tools to assess the impact of bioresources and facilitate their traceability.
Openness of research data is very important. The European Commission has recently launched its rules for supporting financially research projects in Horizon 2020. Data sharing is among these rules in order to avoid research duplication and to maximize benefits from large investments, and also to fulfill the patients’ expectations. Of course, any shared approach needs to be considered carefully. The road towards data openness will require time and efforts but it has already started to be traced.