My Data, Your Data, Our Data – WSJ.com

In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia, it is hard to believe there is still one group that prefers to be more circumspect about sharing: scientists.

Scientists worry that if they share data before publishing their findings, someone else might claim credit for a discovery they made. And even after they mine information for themselves, they frequently cling to the notion that more may be discovered, and so continue to hoard the data.

“Data is what scientists use to establish their reputation,” says Thomas A. Finholt, a research professor and associate dean for research and innovation at University of Michigan. “There is no incentive for opening up access.”

Now an ambitious project has been launched to try to change this traditional approach. Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit with offices at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, is driving an effort to build an open-source collaborative effort it calls Sage Commons, a place where data and disease models can be shared in the hopes of deepening scientists’ understanding of disease biology. To succeed, its founders acknowledge, will require not just data, but a huge cultural shift.

via Sharing Databases for Disease Research – WSJ.com.

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