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Data Sharing in the Biosciences: a sociological perspective

June 26 2008


e-science centre website

Location: National e-Science Centre, Edinburgh, The workshop will start at 10am and finish at 5pm

Organised by:

(To view the outcomes of this workshop, please visit  )

This workshop is sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, in collaboration with ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (Innogen) and will be hosted in Edinburgh by the e-Science Institute.

This workshop aims to explore the changes in the generation, utilisation and governance of information in the biosciences; to consider the implications of these changes; and, to provide advice as appropriate. The workshop will bring together scientists who are having to deal with data sharing issues in their own research (in biology and other relevant disciplines), and social scientists who are studying the impacts of data sharing on scientific practices.

The last decade has seen the generation of increasing quantities of biological data, driven in part by large-scale research efforts such as the human genome project and assisted by advances in automated analysis. Researchers are increasingly likely to be utilising datasets produced elsewhere. These developments mean that life scientists must develop new rules and governance procedures regarding the release and sharing of information, and to do with the standardisation of data, models and experimental protocols. Additionally, public funders of research have introduced data sharing policies that scientists are obliged to follow. These changes have consequences for research practices and for the knowledge that is produced.

This workshop will explore these issues by addressing questions such as:

  • What have been the major developments in the role of information technology and data sharing in the biosciences over the last decade?

  • What examples are there of emerging experience in working with biological data, and what changes has this brought about?

  • What implications do these changes have for scientific practice, community behaviour and associated infrastructures? (For example, will we see the dominance of ‘dry’ over ‘wet’ biology?)

  • Can experiences in other research sectors (e.g. cosmology, particle physics and climatology) throw light on potential upcoming challenges for the biosciences? Do they have useful experiences or tools that could be translated into bioscience?,3589,en.t4.html