Open data sharing and the Global South—Who benefits?

David Serwadda et al in Science: “A growing number of government agencies, funding organizations, and publishers are endorsing the call for increased data sharing, especially in biomedical research, many with an ultimate goal of open data. Open data is among the least restrictive forms of data sharing, in contrast to managed access mechanisms, which typically have terms of use and in some cases oversight by the data generators themselves. But despite an ethically sound rationale and growing support for open data sharing in many parts of the world, concerns remain, particularly among researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia and the Middle East that comprise the Global South. Drawing on our perspective as researchers and ethicists working in the Global South, we see opportunities to improve community engagement, raise awareness, and build capacity, all toward improving research and data sharing involving researchers in LMICs…African scientists have expressed concern that open data compromises national ownership and reopens the gates for “parachute-research” (i.e., Northern researchers absconding with data to their home countries). Other LMIC researchers have articulated fears over free-riding scientists using the data collected by others for their own career advancement …(More)”