Scholarly Communication Program to Host Discussion on Open Data and the Future of Funded Research

NEW YORK, October 26, 2009 – Are researchers ready to share their data? Join us for a discussion on this and more on Thursday, November 12, 2009, at 12:30 pm in Alfred Lerner Hall, Room 555, on Columbia University’s Morningside Campus. The event is sponsored by Columbia University's Scholarly Communication Program and CIESIN, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network.

Appearing as panelists are John Wilbanks, Robert Chen, and Andrew Rundle. Wilbanks is the Vice President for Science at Creative Commons, where he runs the Science Commons project. His background includes roles at the World Wide Web Consortium, Harvard Law School, and the US House of Representatives, as well work as a software entrepreneur. Chen is director of CIESIN, a research unit of the Earth Institute at Columbia. He is currently Secretary-General of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) of the International Council for Science (ICSU), and a member of the ICSU ad hoc Strategic Coordinating Committee on Information and Data. Rundle is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and runs several research projects studying how built and social environments of neighborhoods in New York City influence health. To a large degree his research relies upon access to data generated by New York City governmental agencies.

The term “open data” refers to a range of initiatives and policies that share the common goal of creating more access to scientific data and fewer restrictions on its reuse. Advocates argue that open data is the future of science, allowing researchers around the world to take full advantage of web-based technologies to access data from an unprecedented number of sources. Data-sharing requirements are already attached to some grants from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and other research funders are considering similar policies.

The panelists will discuss the advantages of sharing data openly as well as the practical implications for researchers, particularly those who work with confidential information or who plan to mine a data set for years to come.

This event is free and open to the public. It is the third of six events this academic year in a speaker series organized by the Scholarly Communication Program. Follow the series remotely via Twitter at Video will be distributed through the Program's website and Columbia University's iTunesU and YouTube pages. For information on the series, Research without Borders: The Changing World of Scholarly Communication, please email Kathryn Pope at, or visit

The Scholarly Communication Program explores effective uses of digital technology for sharing new knowledge. The Program, based at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) within Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, highlights innovative approaches to communicating scholarly work and examines related debates over policy and practice, particularly in the context of global research.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.