Welcome to Mozilla Science Lab's Study Group Orientation!


4.5 Open Data and Data Sharing

In the section above, we mentioned that sharing is a key aspect of reproducible research, and helps to ensure the validity and trustworthiness of results. The notion of data sharing and “open data” are central to open research. The Open Knowledge Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing “openness” to the mainstream, defines the following key factors that make data “open”:

  • Access & availability - data is available to all in a convenient and modifiable form
  • Re-use & redistribution - terms of use allow for reusing, remixing and redistributing the data
  • Universal participation - there are no restrictions on who may do any of the above with the data

In a nutshell, open data is data that is made freely and easily available to anyone to use, reuse and distribute. But why should you take your carefully collected, hard-earned data, and set it free on the internet, for strangers to reuse, remix, and redistribute? There are so many reasons. This TED Talk from Data Librarian Kristin Briney covers just a few of them:

In addition, many research funders require grantees to share their data! So it’s not only great open research practice, it’s also the law. Opening your data requires some careful planning, great documentation, and a good repository (or online storage site where users can freely access your data). The process can be daunting. Luckily, Mozilla Science Lab is creating a series of primers to help you understand more about why open data is so great, and to help you easily and successfully share your data. Mozilla Science Lab also offers guidance for those interested in leading hands-on, in-person workshops on data sharing and data management-- contact us here if you'd like more info.