Data Sharing from a Policy Perspective

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

This paper addresses questions of data sharing from the perspective of a former NSF program officer. A brief comparison of policy and research perspectives is made to highlight different values in these two communities. Data sharing is framed as one means to support dialog between researchers and those involved in policy. Other uses of data sharing to those involved in policy are then outlined; it is seen that the role of data sharing is growing in a policy landscape in which program evaluation is becoming increasingly important. Despite the desire of Federal agencies to support data sharing there are legal, regulatory, and ethical constraints and tensions; these are briefly outlined. To help navigate these tensions data sharing is framed in terms of three value propositions: help tell stories, create usable ontologies, and support networks. Each of these value propositions is discussed and several heuristics are proposed that may help emerging data sharing efforts have more value for those who serve engineering education in a policy role. The paper concludes by exploring the larger question of data at scale, the need to connect data across scales, and the philosophical issues that underlie any future attempts to share data.
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R. Alan Cheville

R. Alan Cheville

 

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