Funder Dispatch – Second Quarter, 2008

A View of Life in the Commons

To help you stay updated on our projects and relevant developments in the world of open science, Science Commons periodically sends out brief email dispatches to its funders and other stakeholders. We hope these dispatches, which will contain news summaries and links, give you more context for the work we’re doing and help foster a deeper understanding of the issues we address.

As always, we invite your feedback and comments. If you’d like to share your thoughts or get more information about anything you read, please feel free to contact us at

What has been achieved this quarter?
This quarter, we have worked extensively to launch an important new collaborative project, the Health Commons, and to further our work and discussions in existing areas, especially in data licensing issues and the Materials Transfer Project.

Project Round-Up

Introducing the Health Commons

On June 12, we officially opened up the Health Commons, a new project aimed at bringing the same efficiencies to human health that the network brought to commerce and culture. The project was founded by Science Commons, in collaboration with CommerceNet, CollabRx and the Public Library of Science (PLoS). The Health Commons will facilitate the emergence of a “virtual marketplace,” or ecosystem, through which participants can more easily access the data, knowledge, materials and services for accelerating research, and seamlessly share resources between partners.

For more information on the project, visit our Web site at . There you’ll find a short introductory video by John Wilbanks on the problems the Health Commons seeks to solve, as well as a whitepaper on the project, co-authored by Marty Tenenbaum and John Wilbanks. Tenenbaum is the founder of CommerceNet and recognized as the father of e-commerce. CommerceNet provided seed funding to Science Commons for this project.

Introducing the Health Commons video

“Health Commons – Therapy Development in a Networked World” – by Marty Tenenbaum and John Wilbanks

Continuing the discussion on Open Data

Since the release of our Open Access Data Protocol, we have been receiving requests for more information and a better understanding of the issues and the mindset behind our position on data and databases. To help educate the community on these issues, Science Commons’ counsel Thinh Nguyen has written a position paper, entitled “Freedom to Research”, as well as also lending his voice to our blog, in a post titled “How to Free Your Facts”. The goal being to help increase the community’s understanding on exactly why data should be in the public domain.

“Freedom to Research”

“How to Free Your Facts”

Press Mentions and Publications

Facilitating Translational Medicine … with MTA work

Chris Kronenthal of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research points to our MTA work in a recent Bio-IT World article that explores the role of “biobanks” in scientific innovation. The article includes a description of our MTA project, as well as a few words from Science Commons’ John Wilbanks, on the potential of applying an e-commerce transaction system approach to the transfer of biological materials. Coriell and Addgene, two biobanks, have also agreed to collaborate with Science Commons by opening their catalogues of materials to be accessible via semantic web technologies. The article can be read in its entirety here: <>.

White Paper Release on University Licenses with SPARC

Science Commons and SPARC released a new guide in April for faculty who want to ensure open access to their work through their institution. The paper, “Open Doors and Open Minds”, is a how-to guide aimed at helping institutions adopt policies to increase the practical exposure to the scholarly works being produced, such as that adopted by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences in February. It provides information on copyright law, offers specific suggestions for licensing options and provides a ten-point list of actions people can take to craft and implement a policy that maximizes the impact of research.

“Open Doors and Open Minds” – <>

Public domain, copyright licenses and the freedom to integrate science

In the latest issue of the Journal of Science Communication, Science Commons’ John Wilbanks explains why Science Commons believes that the best way to integrate and make use of the exponentially expanding pool of scientific databases is to mark them explicitly as part of the public domain. This counters the trend toward using “copyleft” licenses for databases, which, however well-intended, threatens the usefulness of the data. This paper can be freely accessed and downloaded at <>.

Conferences & Workshops

Science Commons to join the Florida Dept. of Health in discussing ‘Open Innovation’

This Friday (6/27), Science Commons, with the help of the organization FL CURED, out of Florida’s Department of Health, will be leading a discussion on Open Innovation for Biomedical Research. John Wilbanks, the Vice President of Science for Creative Commons, will be keynoting the event, joined by Dr. Richard Bookman from the University of Miami as the master of ceremonies. The event will look at how open innovation can be a competitive advantage for Florida scientists and research institutions in the highly competitive funding arena, while also highlighting the legal and technical aspects of protecting intellectual property rights. The event will be held at the Kovens Center at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. For more information, visit .

Laying out the principles of Open Science

This July, Science Commons, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Center for the Study of the Public Domain (CSPD) at Duke University head to Barcelona to lead a joint workshop on the policy and infrastructure needed for meaningful e-science. The workshop is one of three satellite events preceding the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF), an interdisciplinary conference that brings together a diverse audience of scientists, academics, government officials, policymakers and members of the media. For more information about the satellite event, visit