The digital age has helped spur economic growth and life improvements; but one of the side effects, as university researchers have pointed out: while we can now produce massive amounts of data, sorting it and understanding it are problematic.
Some researchers and policymakers nowadays encounter problems accessing research and development information related to grants, patents, publications and other data.
A researcher at the University of Kansas says one helpful solution would be a Web-based infrastructure for data sharing and analysis.
“Data are king,” said Donna Ginther, professor of economics at the University of Kansas, “but sharing and exchanging them can be incredibly difficult.” When people are unable to efficiently share scientific data, it can impedes their understanding of what determines economic growth, technological advancement and other benefits.
She says Web-based data sharing and analysis could help, and that setting data exchange standards would be a step. Ginther and her colleagues outline these prescriptions in the October edition of Science magazine.
To address the challenge of data exchange, Ginther said, you need to start with a distributed data infrastructure.
“There’s no single database solution,” said Ginther, who serves as director of the Center for Science Technology & Economic Policy at the Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU. “Data sets are too big, there are confidentiality issues, and parties with proprietary components are unlikely to participate in a single-provider solution. Security and licensing require flexible access. Users must be able to attach and integrate new information.”