Environmental data policy statement

At the moment, the science funding system in New Zealand sets up a fundamental tension between public and private good. Science providers are given public funding to collect data and develop intellectual property that they are then able to sell as part of their commercial activity. A handy double earner for the organisations lucky enough to be supported by science funding.

As part of a broader movement towards more open government, the Ministry of Science Research and Technology has recently developed a clear vision for the re-use of science data:

In 2015, open access to environmental research data from public funding is easy, timely, user-friendly and preferably web-based.

As a step towards this, MoRST have just released a policy statement that describes the next steps they will take to achieve this aspirational goal. The proposed approach has three components:

  • the first will be to change the conditions of science funding and the terms of reference of CRIs to promote quality data management and data re-use;
  • the second will be to provide resources to facilitate good practice;
  • and the third will be to carry out culture change and awareness raising activities.

The general approach seems to be relatively soft, with no suggestion that the government will seek to own IP of the research that it funds.