Alter: Federally funded research data should be freely available

In a guest post on The Signal, the blog of the Library of Congress' Digital Preservation program, ICPSR Director George Alter argues that data from federally funded research projects should be made freely available to the wider research community.

The blog post highlights the ongoing rule-making process being undertaken by the Interagency Working Group on Digital Data, and applauded its efforts to seek input as it develops federal-wide regulations for data sharing.

Alter writes that the most important step the working group could take would be to recommend a policy of mandatory deposit of federally funded research data into long-term, publicly accessible data repositories. That would, he said, "promote re-use of scientific data, maximize the return on investments in data collection, and prevent the loss of thousands of potentially valuable datasets."

The blog post is based on ICPSR's formal response to the working group's request for input. Other responses can be viewed here. A 2009 report from the working group recommending a strategic policy for data sharing is available here (PDF).