Issues of Transborder Flow of Data .. (fwd)
James H. Beach
jbeach at NSF.GOV
Mon Oct 16 14:48:17 CDT 1995
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences is studying issues of data flow
across borders and has issued a brief questionnaire (below). As many
Taxacom readers are involved in international projects involving
biodiversity and taxonomic data, I am forwarding this to the list in the
hope that many of you would take 15 minutes to respond with answers to
the e-mail address: BITS at NAS.EDU.
It would be good for the museum/biodiversity community to be heard on
Replies from scientists outside of the U.S. are strongly encouraged.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council
(NAS/NRC) is undertaking a study to review important issues and trends in
the international flow of scientific data, particularly along transborder
electronic networks. The study will characterize the technical, legal,
economic, and policy issues that have an influence--favorable or
negative--on access by the scientific community to scientific data. The
scope of the study includes symbolic and substantive textual data as well
as numerical data; bibliographic data are only included to the extent
that they are related to substantive and numerical data. The study will
identify and describe both the positive aspects and the barriers or
hindrances that have impacts on research in the natural
sciences--physical, astronomical, biological, and geological--and across
those disciplines. These will be illustrated by representative examples.
Finally, it will identify medium- and long-term trends likely to have
significant discipline-specific and interdisciplinary influence on the
access to and use of scientific data, particularly in electronic forms,
and, where appropriate, suggest approaches that could help overcome
barriers and hindrances in the international context.
The attached "Inquiry to Interested Parties" is a tool to help us
identify significant issues and provide important information to us from
the viewpoints of data users and suppliers regarding transborder
dissemination of and access to scientific data in the natural sciences
from the legal, policy, economic, and technical perspectives. Because of
the nature of this inquiry and the means by which it is being distributed
(i.e., not a demographically controlled sample), we do not intend it to
be a survey base for a statistical study. Rather, we are interested in
facts, interpretations, opinions, and real examples that will help us
gain insight into the main issues of the study. We also are seeking
illustrative material that we can use to communicate the situation to the
scientific and governmental establishments.
The goal of our study is to help improve access to scientific data
and services internationally. We therefore hope that your interests are
common with ours, and that you will assist us by providing your views on
these issues by taking some time to fill out and return this form. We
recognize that not every respondent is likely to be able to comment on
every question, and we do not wish to have the specific questions to be a
limit on what you wish to inform us about. Therefore, please skip any
questions that you do not feel you can address meaningfully, and add any
points that you would like for us to know or consider. Feel free to use
additional pages or attach other pertinent information if you have more
that you wish to say to us.
Please send your response and any related documentation by 31
January 1996 to:
Paul F. Uhlir
Director, U.S. National Committee for CODATA
National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20418 U.S.A.
Telephone: (202) 334-3061; Fax: (202) 334-2154
Internet: BITS at NAS.EDU
We very much look forward to hearing from you.
R. Stephen Berry
INQUIRY TO INTERESTED PARTIES ON ISSUES IN THE TRANSBORDER FLOW OF
Please provide the following information:
Brief description of your data activities and discipline background:
Are you answering this questionnaire as a scientific data: user ( ),
producer ( ), distributor ( ), vendor ( ), system manager ( ),
network operator ( ), policymaker ( ), or other
? [Please check all that apply.]
1. Barriers to Data Access. Some restrictions on access to scientific
data frequently are considered necessary to protect various interests as
well as the integrity of the data. In your experience, have restrictions
on data been a problem? Can you identify any specific impacts or trends?
2. Pricing of Data. If you use data for scientific research, please
tell us: (a) What data sets you have recently used for which you or your
institution paid nothing, and in what form did you get these data (e.g.,
WorldWideWeb, other on-line, CD-ROM, diskette, tape, film, paper, etc.)?
(b) What data have you recently used for which you paid any amount
(including the cost of reproduction or communication connectivity); in
what form did you get these data, how were you charged (e.g., flat rate,
charge per use, etc.), and how much?
(c) What data would you like to use for your research, but consider them
too expensive/costly? What is the cost of such data and what is their
value (apart from cost)?
(d) For the data listed under (c) above, what arrangements could help
make these data available to you? In what form would you like to be able
to get these data?
If you supply data for scientific research (and perhaps for other uses),
please tell us: (e) Are you a profit-making enterprise; if not, what is
the form and intent of your organization?
(f) What kind of data do you supply that are used by scientific
(g) Besides scientific researchers, what kind of other users of your data
are there, if any?
(h) Do you provide special pricing for research/academic users? If so,
what is your pricing policy?
(i) What are the media you use to distribute your data (e.g., paper,
film, tapes, diskettes, CD-ROMs, on-line, etc.)?
(j) If you sell or otherwise market your data, what is your perception of
the price elasticity and demand for the data you distribute. What
changes would you make to your data products and services if demand were
3. Protection of Intellectual Property. (a) What are the principal
legal and technical mechanisms actually used for protecting unauthorized
uses of data in your country/institution/discipline area?
(b) Can you provide any information about how such legal or technical
mechanisms are implemented or enforced? What are the positive and
4. Less Developed Countries. (a) In your experience, what have been the
principal problems associated with transferring data into or out of "less
developed countries," including those nations from the former Soviet
(b) What can be done to help alleviate these problems, especially by the
international scientific community?
5. Electronic Networks. (a) Has the development and growth of the
Internet and other electronic networking services affected the way you
access or distribute data internationally? Please give specific examples
if you can.
(b) How do you think the situation with electronic networks will change
in the next 5-10 years or so, and what are the likely impacts to your
6. Other Technical Issues. (a) Besides those associated with electronic
networks, what are the most important technical benefits or problems you
have experienced in either disseminating or accessing data
(b) What changes do you anticipate over the next 5-10 years, and what are
the likely impacts to your activities?
7. Scientific Data for Global Problems. (a) In your view, what is the
role of international scientific data for addressing global problems,
now and in the future? Please elaborate.
(b) What can be done to enhance the availability or exchange of
scientific data to better address these concerns?
8. Other Issues. Do you have any specific concerns or examples of
successes that you believe should be considered in this study? In
addition, we would welcome your suggestions for other institutions or
individuals to contact with regard to these questions, as well as any
references to key documents.
Thank you for your cooperation. Please return your response as indicated
in the cover letter.
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