Next week marks the one-year anniversary of NIH shifting to maximum telework in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like employers and employees across the country, overnight we needed to adapt our entire enterprise and reinvent our jobs in the virtual workplace.
Today, nearly twenty years after the publication of the Final NIH Statement on Sharing Research Data in 2003, we have released a Final NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing. This represents the agency’s continued commitment to share and make broadly available the results of publicly funded biomedical research. We hope it will be a critical step in moving towards a culture change, in which data management and sharing is seen as integral to the conduct of research. Responsible data management and sharing is good for science; it maximizes availability of data to the best and brightest minds, underlies reproducibility, honors the participation of human participants by ensuring their data is both protected and fully utilized, and provides an element of transparency to ensure public trust and accountability.
When world famous cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, visited the NIH campus, he shared a story from the history of music, in which the peak of stringed instrument quality occurred in the late 17th century at a time of great collaboration and sharing of knowledge. When instrument makers began to compete, all of that changed: secrets of craftsmanship were held close and the quality of instruments plummeted. This decline lasted, according to Ma, until the 20th century, when again the free-flow of knowledge resumed. NIH Director Francis Collins noted, “There’s a lesson here about science.”