Free the data

I've been working on the flu virus for several years now, and some of us have been trying hard to get the flu community to share data, but it's an uphill battle. We started a project in 2003 (when I was at TIGR) to sequencing 1000's of influenza genomes and release all the data immediately - so that the entire scientific community can benefit. We've done that, and we've published letters in Nature urging others to do the same, but most of the leading scientists still refuse. They prefer to sit on their data and milk it for whatever results they can discover until all their papers are published, and only then will they release data.
Meanwhile the flu continues to spread around the world and we aren't really keeping ahead of it. Genome data - human, bacterial, viral, whatever - should be released immediately to have the greatest benefit. Any public funding agencies should insist that work funded by them include data release.
I have similar opinions about making our publications free, and I'll try to put some of them in my next post.


  1. Maybe you should have published those letters in an Open Access journal too, more out of principal than anything else. I realize having the letters in Nature gets a wider audience, but the more you put such things in Open Access places, the more those OA places will get used.

  2. We thought about that, but the Nature Editors had written their own editorial on the topic, so in part we were responding to them. But next time we'll go with Open Access - I agree with you there!


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