Open Access and Open Data at PUSH Universities

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.

Graphic detailing the benefits, challenges and barriers of open data.

Graphic with recommendations to advance open data.

Click HERE for the full report

What is open data?

Open data is the concept that any data collected (especially sponsored by publicly funded sources) is made freely available, accessible, and able to be used for any purpose. Open data can be accessed by any member of the public for free on the internet. Open data can play an increasingly important role in global collaborations and innovation, innovation that will help solve difficult and complex problems such as hunger.

What is GODAN?

Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) supports the proactive sharing of open data to make information about agriculture and nutrition available, accessible and usable to deal with the urgent challenge of ensuring world food security. It is a rapidly growing group, currently more than 700 partners from national governments, non-governmental, international and private sector organizations. The initiative focuses on building high-level support among governments, policymakers, international organizations and business and raising the profile of the value of open data. Interested in becoming a GODAN partner? Learn more here!

Why partner?

As leaders in creating and curating knowledge and data, universities are natural partners in this global effort. Land grant universities, many of which are part of PUSH, have already been sharing their knowledge and best practices in the areas of agriculture and nutrition. PUSH and UFWH (Universities Fighting World Hunger) want to help highlight the importance of open data as a resource for ending world hunger. By involving universities and students in this pursuit of open data collection and analysis, PUSH and UFWH are encouraging both academics and future leaders to search for innovative ways to combat hunger on a global scale.