Last Thursday the Bouchout Declaration on Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management has been launched at Bouchout Castle in the National Botanic Garden Meise, Belgium. The goal of the Declaration is to foster international collaboration in biodiversity research by implementing principles of open access and regular readers of this blog know that this is very close to my heart.
The Declaration targets the need for data to be openly accessible, so that scientists can use the information for new types of research and to provide better advice. Currently, data may be prevented from becoming open or usable because of copyright оr concerns of institutions holding data, or because it is not available in a form that can be easily managed in digital form. The Declaration identifies mechanisms to structure open data so that they can be aggregated, queried and analysed on a much larger scale than was previously possible.
57 organizations and 58 individuals signed the Declaration, including some of the largest natural history institutions like Kew, Naturalis, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin, Harvard MCZ, California Academy of Sciences, InBIO and the Brazilian Virtual Herbarium of Flora and Fungi.
All signatories encourage an overarching approach to Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management based on the following fundamental principles:
- The free and open use of digital resources about biodiversity and associated access services;
- Licenses or waivers that grant or allow all users a free, irrevocable, world-wide, right to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly as well as to build on the work and to make derivative works, subject to proper attribution consistent with community practices, while recognizing that providers may develop commercial products with more restrictive licensing.
- Policy developments that will foster free and open access to biodiversity data;
- Tracking the use of identifiers in links and citations to ensure that sources and suppliers of data are assigned credit for their contributions;
- An agreed infrastructure, standards and protocols to improve access to and use of open data;
- Registers for content and services to allow discovery, access and use of open data;
- Persistent identifiers for data objects and physical objects such as specimens, images and taxonomic treatments with standard mechanisms to take users directly to content and data;
- Linking data using agreed vocabularies, both within and beyond biodiversity, that enable participation in the Linked Open Data Cloud;
- Dialogue to refine the concept, priorities and technical requirements of Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management;
- A sustainable Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management that is attentive to scientific, sociological, legal, and financial aspects.
The Declaration remains open to sign. You might want to consider discussing its principles and their implementation and ultimately to sign it.