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New Award Honors Significance of Open, Available Data

June 14, 2010 | By Microsoft blog editor

For several years, Microsoft External Research has been a proud sponsor of the BioMed Central Research Awards. The awards honor excellence in an approach to publishing known as “open access research,” whereby content is available not only to subscribers but also to anyone online.

This year, as a result of  productive discussions with BioMed Central’s managing director, Matthew Cockerill, the increasingly significant role data plays in research has been recognized with the first BioMed Central Open Data Award, which was presented last night to Yoosook Lee for her article Ecological and genetic relationships of the Forest-M form among chromosomes and molecular forms of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto. Since 2007, Lee has been a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

Selecting Lee’s article for the award, which includes a $5,000 prize, was determined in large part by the Panton Principles, which were unveiled in February 2010. The Panton Principles offer guidance for those who want to make data related to their published science free of financial, legal, and technical barriers. The Principles were put to use by the judges as guidelines that they were able to use to help them rate, rank, and reward authors for how openly they were sharing their data with others.  (One of the judges, Cameron Neylon, summarizes the judging process in this blog entry.)

The term “open data” is literal: It calls for the data supporting research to be open and available to all readers. Making data open and available upon publication has become increasingly popular over the past 15 years and is, in fact, mandated by many in the global research community. While the trend toward making data available is a logical step in the evolution of scholarly communication, it is still in an early stage of incubation. Therefore, it’s a special honor for Microsoft External Research to support a practice that will encourage innovation and discovery both within and across domains.

From all of us at Microsoft External Research, congratulations to Yoosook Lee as well as the other winners of this year’s BioMed Central Research Awards.

Lee Dirks, director, Education & Scholarly Communications, Microsoft External Research