Incentivising open ecological data using blockchain technology

Paper by Robert John Lewis, Kjell-Erik Marstein & John-Arvid Grytnes: “Mindsets concerning data as proprietary are common, especially where data production is resource intensive. Fears of competing research in concert with loss of exclusivity to hard earned data are pervasive. This is for good reason given that current reward structures in academia focus overwhelmingly on journal prestige and high publication counts, and not accredited publication of open datasets. And, then there exists reluctance of researchers to cede control to centralised repositories, citing concern over the lack of trust and transparency over the way complex data are used and interpreted.

To begin to resolve these cultural and sociological constraints to open data sharing, we as a community must recognise that top-down pressure from policy alone is unlikely to improve the state of ecological data availability and accessibility. Open data policy is almost ubiquitous (e.g. the Joint Data Archiving Policy, (JDAP) and while cyber-infrastructures are becoming increasingly extensive, most have coevolved with sub-disciplines utilising high velocity, born digital data (e.g. remote sensing, automated sensor networks and citizen science). Consequently, they do not always offer technological solutions that ease data collation, standardisation, management and analytics, nor provide a good fit culturally to research communities working among the long-tail of ecological science, i.e. science conducted by many individual researchers/teams over limited spatial and temporal scales. Given the majority of scientific funding is spent on this type of dispersed research, there is a surprisingly large disconnect between the vast majority of ecological science and the cyber-infrastructures to support open data mandates, offering a possible explanation to why primary ecological data are reportedly difficult to find…(More)”.