{ C O N T E N T S }
Volume 10, Issue 1

President's Letter

ISMB Honors
Temple F. Smith

Overton Prize:
Eran Segal

Third Student Symposium

Sharing Software
and Data

ISMB 2008

ISCB at 10 Years

ECCB 2008

ECCB 2006
Conference Report

FASEB Update

Report Card

Rocky '07

PLoS CB: Ten Simple
Rules Series

Key Dates for Key Conferences

Post your Events & News

Upcoming Conferences
& Events

News from the Field

Cover Image




Copyright © 2007
International Society for Computational Biology.
All rights reserved.

Sharing Software and Data

In 2002, ISCB developed a policy statement on bioinformatics software availability (www.iscb.org/policy_statements.shtml). At the time, there was concern that grant applications did not clearly state whether, and how, software developed using grant money would be available to other researchers. Moreover, it was felt that granting agencies were not clear enough about what was expected. The ISCB policy statement defined 5 levels of software availability and made the following recommendations:

1. Given the variety of meanings of "open source", that people define what they mean when they use the term.
2. That government funding agencies encourage grant proposals to specify the availability of software using at least the ISCB-defined levels.
3) That government funding agencies not mandate that all software
created with grant money be available via an open-source license.
4) That government funding agencies require that all software created with grant money be available at a minimum in binary form, and free to non-commercial users.

This policy was developed without enough input from ISCB members, and the Public Affairs committee is revisiting this topic. We will distribute relevant educational materials and opinion pieces, hold a meeting at ISMB/ECCB 2007 (Tuesday, July 24, 12:15 pm), gather input on a blog (http://iscb-discussion.blogspot.com/2007/06/data-and-software-sharing-policy.html), and otherwise gather feedback from the community. We hope to develop a revised policy statement, or guidelines, that will be useful to the community as well as to government funding agencies and scientific journals.

Please visit http://iscb-discussion.blogspot.com/2007/06/data-and-software-sharing-policy.html for useful reference material, including recommendations and guidelines developed by various organizations.

Our questions to you (please answer in the blog comments or by email to policy@iscb.org):

1. Is there a problem?
  • Is there a need to define software availability clearly?
  • Should we expand the scope from government funding
    agencies to publications? Or beyond? Should we expand the scope to include data sharing?
  • What should government agencies and journals require in terms of software availability? Should ISCB make a recommendation?
  • Should authors and grant-writers be required to clearly define the availability of their software?
  • Is there a problem currently with published articles, in that it is difficult to reproduce the results due to lack of access to data or software? Have you had personal experience with this?
  • Does it make sense to allow researchers at companies to be charged a fee for software but require that it be provided to
    academics at no charge?
  • If you have terabytes of data, how does that affect your ability to share it?
  • Are there privacy concerns with sharing of human genomic data?
  • What sharing is needed to allow results to be verified and built upon?
  2. If a problem exists, what should be done to address it?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the 2002 ISCB policy statement, and why?
  • When you publish a paper or develop software for a grant, how do you make your software and data available?
  • What should ISCB do in addition to, or instead of, releasing a policy statement? (Has the previous policy statement had any effect?)
  • What would YOU be willing to do to help ISCB address this issue?