It is pleasing to report that the overwhelming arguments in favour of the continuation of NCRIS funding have borne fruit with the Government's decision to continue funding while awaiting the findings of the Clark Review into research infrastructure. ANDS can now plan its activities over the next two years with a great deal more confidence.
A significant event that has taken place since I last wrote was the Open Research Data Showcase. It was a spectacular coming together of users of research data, showing just what can be achieved when researchers provide open access to facilitate its reuse and grow important collaborations. We saw some great examples (some of which are highlighted elsewhere in this edition of Share) which support the thesis of the Houghton–Gruen report Open Research Data, namely that the potential benefits from appropriate curation of open research data run into the billions.
Indeed ANDS is providing the infrastructure to facilitate this occurring. However, while this contribution was acknowledged by those attending the Showcase, what was even more gratifying was the level of buzz that characterised the discussions that took place. One of the unwritten laws of effective open data sharing and reuse is that there needs to be a fundamental change in research culture to underpin the open data revolution. And it was evident in the Showcase participants. It is no longer good enough for researchers to say 'this is my data and I'm not sharing it with anyone in case they find something that I want to find'. In fact opening one's research data can lead to new collaborations and greater research impact (whichever way that is estimated).
A feature of the Showcase was a substantial number of posters and high-quality videos illustrating the value of open research data. A particularly good video was from the Tropical Data Hub at James Cook University where a number of examples were displayed. One such example was VecNet, bringing together malaria data and modelling tools, as well as guidance tools, which could potentially multiply many-fold the value of the research collections. And the impact of openness is real in terms of delivering new insights into the prevention and treatment of malaria.
Indeed, Shakespeare could have been talking about open data in The Merchant Venice when he wrote of mercy: "It is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes".
The potential impact of unlocking data, as has been done in the Tropical Data Hub, is staggering.