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Ways to make data sharing between the global north and south more fair

Open data sharing and the Global South -- who benefits?

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Ways to Make Data Sharing Between the Global North and South More Fair: Many researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are hesitant to embrace open data policies. In this Policy Forum, David Serwadda et al. highlight the underlying concerns behind this hesitancy, as well as ways to foster more trust and equality surrounding open datasets. For example, some LMIC scientists have expressed concern that open data compromises na¬tional ownership and reopens the gates for "parachute-research," where Northern researchers abscond with data to their home countries. As well, it is inevitable that open data sharing will allow some investigators at more well-resourced institutions in the North to publish before Southern investigators have a chance. There must be a paradigm shift, the authors say, in how research contributions are recognized and credited. They propose that journals that require open data sharing should formally recognize the persons or groups who provide the primary data. As well, substantial increased donor investment in management of open data sets, training in data analysis, and infrastructure for data handling and storage in LMICs would im¬prove equity and reciprocity, the authors say. Lastly, they emphasize the need to create an international policy framework, through an institution such the World Health Organization, that could also facilitate country-level adaptations, capacity development, and op¬erationalization of data sharing policies in LMICs, which are currently lacking.

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Note: This paper will be available for free when the embargo lifts at http://www.sciencemag.org.

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