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Board on Research Data and Information
Policy and Global Affairs Division
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
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Designing the Microbial Research Commons: An International Symposium
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 8-9 October 2009

Board on Research Data and Information
Policy and Global Affairs Division
National Academy of Sciences, U.S.

[ Summary] [ Task Statement ] [ Meeting Agenda ] [ Steering Committee Members ]


The International Symposium on Designing the Microbial Research Commons will be focused on accomplishing the following tasks:

  1. Delineate the research and applications opportunities from improved integration of microbial data, information, and materials and from enhanced collaboration within the global microbial community.
  2. Identify the global challenges and barriers—the scientific, technical, institutional, legal, economic, and sociocultural—that hinder the integration of microbial resources and the collaborative practice of scientific communities in the microbial commons.
  3. Characterize the alternative legal and policy approaches developed and implemented by other research communities, such as common-use licensing for scientific data and information, standard-form material transfer agreements, open access publishing, and open data networks, that could be applied successfully by the microbial research community.
  4. Define the contributions of new information and communication technology (ICT) tools in building federated information infrastructures, such as ontologies, data and text mining, and web 2.0.
  5. Discuss and evaluate the institutional design and governance principles of data and information sharing among information infrastructures, drawing upon and analyzing successful and failed case studies in the life sciences.
  6. Identify the range of policy issues that need to be addressed for maximizing open access to materials, data and literature information in an integrated microbial research commons.

An expert Steering Committee has been formed to advise on the project and the international symposium. The committee members are listed in Appendix A. A comprehensive monograph on designing the microbial research commons is currently being prepared and will serve as a framework for discussion at the conference. The monograph will be made available to all the speakers and registered participants in draft form well in advance of the conference. An edited summary and proceedings from this symposium will be published by the National Academies Press in 2010.


 We are grateful to the Department of Energy, DOE grant DE-SC0002579, and the
National Science Foundation, NSF grant OCI-082173, for support of this project.