The sharing of research findings, as well as other data, is believed to increase the pace of innovation, research breakthroughs, and collaborative problem-solving. Often, however, these data are not readily available, visible, or accessible, resulting in needlessly duplicated research or critical gaps in information. This has led many public research funders (e.g., NSF, NIH, USAID), as well as private donors (e.g., Gates Foundation), to require public universities and other higher education institutions to develop or enhance data management plans that allow for open access and data sharing. While creating a culture with policies and infrastructure platforms that allows for open access and open data is a challenge, it is a challenge that is becoming increasingly necessary for universities to address.
Purpose of Study
This exploratory study was conducted by the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University on behalf of Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), in partnership with the GODAN initiative. The purpose of the project was to provide a snapshot of where the 99 universities in the PUSH network were in developing, using, and promoting open access and open data policies and practices by identifying: issues and obstacles, level of support provided to faculty, useful resources and best practices, and comparison of findings to the GODAN donor report.
Only 15 of the 99 PUSH university websites provided open access for content, articles, presentations, etc. Of the nine universities participating in the interviews, no single university model emerged as a comprehensive approach or best practice for data management policy, infrastructure and administrative support. However, interviewees independently agreed with the literature that open data should be: accessible, machine-readable, high quality, continuously updated, possess unique identifiers, readily linked to other data sources, and contain an open license to reuse the data with credit to the original source.
Findings from this report are in line with the findings from the previous GODAN donor report and the AAU-APLU open data report.