Economics Open Data

October 5, 2006

It seems that whilst I was in Maastricht yesterday talking to economists about chemistry open data, PMR was in Washington listening to an economist.

It’s always rewarding to cross area boundaries, although as a mechanical engineer turned software bod and working in chemoinformatics, I seem to get more than my fair share. Nonetheless, I found yesterday’s workshop even more rewarding than I had expected.

Economics makes an interesting contrast to chemistry, in that it has a strong preprint culture and Open Access seems to be far better accepted than in chemistry. On the other hand, paying for access to primary research data is accepted as a part of life – although sharing datasets is on their radar I don’t think loss of data and replication of work is as much of a pain point for economics as it is for chemistry.

The Nereus consortium has used DSpace to federate metadata across their institutions. However, some of the institutions who are furthest along with their repository programmes are planning, or talking about planning, to drop DSpace in favour of Fedora. Obviously I don’t take these decisions personally but it behoves me to understand why.

Part of the reason is functionality DSpace 1 lacks; top shelf metadata support, complex objects and versioning were all mentioned. I’m hopeful that the technical review meeting at the end of October will go a long way towards starting to fix those issues.

There was another issue raised, though, by Peter van Huisstede of Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, who observed that DSpace is built to do things a certain way, and it’s often hard to do things another way. Which got me thinking about whether this was a good or bad thing.

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